Hello to August. Time for a new open thread. Thank you for your comments.
Saturday, 31 July 2021
It's got to the stage where whenever I read a BBC News online report I automatically think, ''Has the BBC fact-checked this?''.
I don't trust their basic competence these days.
A whole new blog might be devoted to correcting basic errors in BBC website reports.
A fresh case in point...
As you'd expect the Twitter-obsessed BBC picked up on the Twitter furore over Lord [Digby] Jones's criticisms of BBC sports presenter Alex Scott for doin' a Beth Rigby and droppin' her 'g's.
I immediately spotted something that didn't look right and Googled to fact-check myself.
The BBC writes:
Digby was never a Labour transport minister. He was a trade minister under Gordon Brown.
Friday, 30 July 2021
Desperately specialist subject territory perhaps, but as discussed on the open thread...
Tuesday, 20 July 2021
I think there’s a touch of elephant in my DNA. I should get a test. In the innocent eyes of a child, Babar the elephant and his family seem gentle and sort of poignant, but it turns out he was a massive racist and has had to be banned. Oh well, like the proverbial elephant I can’t let go of certain memories. Just can’t shake ‘em off. (Not that I’ve tried)
I recall Joan Juliet Buck, a senior editor of Vogue magazine at the time, publishing the now-infamous puff-piece about Syria’s first lady Asma al-Assad. The piece was titled A Rose in the Desert. Buck’s subsequent confession of regret and embarrassment didn’t make a big splash, but at least she came clean even if Vogue magazine did not. Of course, that was before hubby Bashir gassed half his subjects. Ms Buck had fallen for Mrs al-Assad and family hook line and sinker, in much the same way as Charlotte Edwardes-with-an-e appears to have done, as evidenced by her obvious admiration for, nay, crush on social media stars and anti-Israel activists ‘the twins of Jerusalem’.
If you thought the illustration I used in my previous post looked familiar, you’ll have recognised it as an oblique reference to an interview in Saturday’s Times magazine, which has been thoroughly deconstructed by others.
What is it with these fashion mag people? It may be bitchy to say so -perhaps racist - but I see them as a ‘type’ - middle-class, blonde, London-centric, and with a sense of entitlement that allows them to brandish their superficial and totally unsubstantiated polemics with the confidence only fools possess. And they get them published. I’m disgusted with the Times for promoting this ill-intentioned article, but such things are getting a bit too frequent to be mere aberrations.
Charlotte Edwardes’s article immediately flagged up the memory of “Rose of the Desert”, which, much as Vogue magazine and its ilk might not like it, we elephants never forget. One day in the future The Times and Charlotte Edwardes might regret the way they’ve decontextualised and glorified such fanatical haters, but the way things are going I ain’t holding my breath.
So here’s where I can safely say, in the words of the great Brenda from Bristol - Not another one!
I used to follow the writings of Hugh Fitzgerald, way back in 2009, when I wanted to educate myself about political Islam. Then I lost track a bit, but he’s popped into my consciousness again because he’s directly addressing the BBC. Here’s his take on Tala Hawala, and this piece: The BBC’s notoriously anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian Middle East coverage is worth a few minutes of your time; here’s an excerpt:
I had occasion some time ago to write about Bowen’s reckless disregard of important facts. As one example of this, I noted that he has been cavalier about the numbers of terrorist attacks that Israelis have had to endure. In an interview Bowen gave to Paul Blanchard, he claimed that “plenty of Palestinians feel very threatened by settlers, armed settlers, by soldiers, by raids in the middle of the night, by helicopters, you name it. And many Israelis have been hurt by and continue to be worried about attacks by Palestinians, though there haven’t been all that many in recent years.”
“John Simpson once proclaimed at his website that he was “doing my best to make sense of a crazy world.” On the subject of Islam, he has been among its stoutest apologists. When he interviewed Pim Fortuyn, he infuriated that supremely intelligent man with his absurd charges about Fortuyn’s “racism,” and his obstinate refusal to accept Fortuyn’s statement of the obvious, that Islam is not a race; the courtly Fortuyn ordered Simpson and his BBC crew to leave his home after accusing the newsman of “failing to show him any respect.” You can read Simpson’s report on the man he called “Holland’s anti-Islam dandy.” Notice the sneer in his description of Fortuyn’s “high-camp charm” and how the Dutchman “sat in his garden bower like an 18th century dandy whose wig had fallen off.”
Currently linked to in our sidebar, David Collier has unearthed yet another BBC-related anti-Israel activist and exposed the BBC’s Tom Bateman as a bit of a fanboy, if that’s the right expression.
This is mere 'tip of the iceberg' stuff. But still, paint me Brenda from Bristol. The BBC really seems to be full of staff members that are hostile to Israel and happy to remain ignorant of and/or turn a blind eye to the implications of political Islam.
The tip of the iceberg, but still worth reminding you. (Isn't it?)
Monday, 19 July 2021
After unearthing some historic Hitler-related Tweets by its employee Tala Hawala the BBC dismissed her from her job as Palestine Specialist for BBC Monitoring.
An impassioned response to the dismissal appeared on Twitter and was reproduced by some of the media, many of which chose to close comment fields that are normally open to the public. This is so sensitive a topic that a partial “don’t go there” situation apparently prevails. We’re tacitly colluding in a conspiracy of silence. (Are we?) The prospect of being drowned under a tsunami of un-woke, racist hate-speak must be a bit too much for the editorial community if there is one.
Why though - why close the comments? Opinions on Israel and the Palestinians (and sometimes on ‘Islam-in-general’) are invariably divisive and turn nasty at the drop of a hat, but I wonder if preemptively cancelling comments altogether is a sensible policy. It probably is, while the general public is so ill-informed and ill-equipped to argue knowledgeably. See that, BBC?
But suppurating boils ache to be lanced, and because this blog is all about the BBC and Bias, and because one aspect of the media’s egregiously one-sided reporting is the BBC’s pro-Palestinian / anti-Israel bias, particularly by omission but also by inference and outright advocacy - because of all that - we need to talk.
In the self-pitying reposte above, Ms Hawala paints herself as a victim of the pro-Israel mob. I’ve heard it argued that her views are perfectly in accord with the BBC’s, therefore singling her out for dismissal is unfair and that she merely crossed the line with a much-too-unsubtle reference to Hitler, accidentally a little too overt and in-yer-face to pass for impartiality.
“I apologise for my single offensive and ignorant Tweet” came the weasel-worded non-apology. “I blurted out the “Hitler was right” remark in the heat of the moment” This confession looked suitably self-deprecating with a whiff of mea culpa thrown in. and had she left it at that, with the possibility of a Naz Shah style redemption. ‘Lessons learned / sorry for what I did‘ she might have bought herself some time.
But no. Racism will out. Begging for sympathy, Hawala painted her heat-of-the-moment outburst as understandable. Cherry-picking incidents from Israel’s 2014 retaliatory incursion into Gaza - devoid of context and full of obvious omissions - not least three murdered Israeli teenagers - was a clumsy and stupid tactic. She even managed to trash her own boast, of (her own) ‘impartial and professional journalism’ by coming out with a litany of stereotypical antisemitic conspiracy theories. Hoist on her own gratuitously self-damning petard and reducing her vindication thing to parody.
There’s no way back. Chances of reconciliation - quashed. She needn’t worry though. There are plenty of opportunities still open to her. The Times might be interested.
For anyone who still cares, that loaded allusion to ‘Industrial in scale’ is quite obscene
Saturday, 17 July 2021
Friday, 18 June 2021
What an idiot I am; and an absolute fool for wasting all those precious hours-I’ll-never-get-back trying to be forensic and scrupulous and providing evidence in links that no one can ever be bothered to click on.
Why on earth did I mistake diligence for persuasiveness? I was mad, probably visualising justice, like in the good old black and white days when truth prevailed, and all 12 angry men came round in the end against all the odds even though they were impatient, tired, and dying to get home to snap at the wife and kids.
I’m prone to over-thinking and quite slow on the uptake but thankfully I’ve seen the light praise be! I now realise that no one cares about facts. Sorry, “facts”.
I accidentally watched part of a special parliamentary inquiry into MartinBashirGate on T V. The one where a select committee of MPs sit in a socially distanced horseshoe in order to humiliate certain hand-picked individuals and make them squirm. It reminded me of a cross between a severe dressing down by a committee of headmasters, and an interrogation by the European Court of Human Righteousness.
To be fair It was shown on the actual BBC. Tony Hall, Alistair Burt, and the current D.G. Tim Something-or-other came in for a grilling.
“Nowt to do with us, gov”
they declared, one by one.
“It was that rogue Bashir. How could we have known? None of us had ever even heard of him”.
(Funny dat. I’d heard of him and I’m not even a Director General of a major broadcasting organisation)
“Bashir’s errant Panorama was a one-off, because believe me (us) Brand Panorama represents gold standard BBC.”
But what about a certain Mr. Savile, asked no-one whatsoever, and a certain John Sweeney? Weren’t they Panoramas too? Or Panodramas as per a recent, witty jest.
You may well think that all Panoramas Matter, but poor little Martin Bashir was thrown under the bus and hung out to dry; don’t feel too sorry for him though because he’s still on full pay! Not that I can be arsed to check that out as a fact, what really matters is it’s how. I. feel.
Early reports of Tala Hawala’s departure from the BBC didn’t say she was sacked (this headline seems to have been added as an afterthought) but we can assume that she has been. Or perhaps she fell on her sword; who knows.
Don’t let’s compare historic Tweets. I didn’t bother to find out what Ollie Robinson’s offensive Tweets actually were. For all I know, he too Tweeted “Hitler was right”, perish the thought, and even if he did, it probably wouldn't have affected his cricketing expertise, whereas Ms. Hawala’s Hitler Tweets directly compromised her ability to report on Palestine/Israel affairs with due impartiality in accord with her employers' charter obligations.
I don’t think Naz Shah needs to be impartial - in fact, the opposite - her role is to represent her constituency. The media has shown little interest in the disingenuousness that has dogged her political career, but I guess that’s up to them. I watched her speaking in an HoC select committee debate. It seems it was one of those online ‘e-petitions’ that MPs are obliged to debate when a certain number of signatures have been reached. Is it 1,000? 10,000? 100,000?
Shah’s speech was so selective with the actualité that she became a one-man select committee all on her ownsome. This link takes you to Hansard but watching it might help you understand why l found it utterly repugnant.
As Melanie Phillips noted,
During a debate on “Israel-Palestine” on Monday, Labour MPs called for a boycott of Israel.[…] Bradford MP Naz Shah, who has a history of anti-Jewish remarks, described Israel’s understanding of the right to self-defence as “perverted” and said if any more “Palestinian blood” was “unjustly spilled” she would push for Israel to be tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.
I think as many as two whole MPs stood up for Israel. One was Cornish MP Steve Double. Good for him! This disproportionality (to coin a phrase) largely stems from the media’s (Not only the BBC - Sky is as bad if not worse) one-sided reporting, which often amounts to rabble-rousing. I truly believe that this accounts for and has emboldened an increasingly overt resurgence of antisemitism.
Steve Baker was disappointing; Afzal Khan was predictable and Rushanara Ali was lazy enough to do little more than articulate how sorry she was that not enough Jews were killed by Hamas but one must assume that’s exactly what their constituents ask of them.
While I should be pleased that the BBC’s Tala has been cancelled I find her martyrdom curiously uncomfortable. Maybe she should have been given a chance to repent, just like Naz Shah pretended to do after being called out for her own embarrassing Tweet. Perhaps Shah’s short-lived repentance was short-lived and disingenuous enough to discredit the entire concept of repentance.
As for the heavily anti-Israeli weighting and the dearth of opposing viewpoints throughout that grim HoC debate, I blame the BBC. Several generations of viewers have been swayed by over 60 years of biased, borderline antisemitic news coverage.
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Or: Mahmoud Zahar opens up!
For the moment the Martin Bashir affair has eclipsed other aspects BBC-watching. Perhaps this too will pass. What did you make of Tim Davie on the Today programme? Justin Webb made him squirm a little, using the Mishal Husain-like air of disapproval rather than robust questioning. I suppose none of us would wish to see another John Humphrys / George Entwistle debacle in which an unintended premature toppling was followed by a bashful “Oopsy! What have I done?”)
I don’t want to be mean, so I won’t be, but let’s just say Panorama is no stranger to underhand tactics. John Sweeney, where are you now?
Anyway, That’s not new, and neither is the BBC’s consistent ‘tone of voice’ disapproval of Israel’s desire to prosper and flourish. We’ve been writing about it for years and years. Decades.
What did you make of Sky? Sky (UK) and Sky (Australia) are completely different kettles of fish. Our Sky features Mark Austin and Mark Stone. (Journalism has many Marks.)
Now, Mark Stone has been particularly biased in the pro-Palestinian department, hence the post-conflict wallowing in context-free misery. I do know that the world has an insatiable appetite for misery and pathos and some of the tragic tales from Gaza are truly heartbreaking. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a hell of a lot to answer for, yet the constant drone of that Israel-bashing ‘tone of voice’ hovers above all his reporting. Israel. Israel. Israel.
#Hamas co-founder has told @SkyNews the current ceasefire should hold for now but said there’s no chance of peace with #Israel yet.— Mark Stone (@Stone_SkyNews) May 23, 2021
We tackle Mahmoud Zahar on firing missiles from civilian areas into civilian areas, on accepting a Jewish State and more.
Extended 🎥 on Sky later pic.twitter.com/GSOyaG4Usl
Then, guess what? Well, you know what. He gets the coveted interview with that wart-nosed rogue Mahmoud Zahar. “No, Israel has no right to exist” Zahar declares; no ifs no buts. No way of sweetening that one, Mr Stone! You’d have to have a heart-of-Stone not to…. you know.
The thing is, there are an increasing number of people both here and even more disturbingly, in the United States who couldn’t care less that Hamas's unequivocal intransigence is 'out in the open' because they agree with Zahar. I blame the media; apologists for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the lot of them.
The BBC is forced to be less overt about it than Sky, but there’s still that ever-present disapproving tone-of-voice, and there’s still Jeremy Bowen, a man with a well-documented grudge against Israel, given free rein to wallow in the context-free emoting they believe the audience demands. The mainstream media keeps quiet about the Islamic elephant in the room. However massive and bloated it gets, it’s there in front of us as plain as the king’s new clothes and just as invisible.
A brilliant article by AYAAN HIRSI ALI How influencers have legitimised anti-Semitism. She doesn’t cite the BBC by name but alludes to the BBC’s now-notorious Tala Hawala embarrassment. As for ‘influencers’, well, according to Justin Webb’s very own introduction this morning, the BBC is the top influencer in the stratosphere.
Sunday, 23 May 2021
Papa Mike and Marianna from the BBC's much self-admired Disinformation Unit will doubtless confirm that July was named after Kenneth Williams. And that the loudest month of the year, August, was named after Brian Blessed from 1 Clavdivs. And that May was named after an Abba reject who went on to become the UK's second [non-trans] female PM, immediately prior to Laura Kuenssberg's scandalous wallpaper guy.
Time for a new open thread.
Best wishes to you all, and thank you so much for continuing to comment. And may your May be wonderful.
Digital JournalistCompany Name: BBC MonitoringDates Employed: Jul 2017 – PresentEmployment Duration: 3 yrs 11 mosLocation: RamallahPalestine Specialist in BBC Monitoring: specialized in Palestinian affairs and the media, as well as covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition to reporting on the politics and media of Jordan. Produced and reported for several services in the BBC such as the Arabic website and TV, and the BBC World Service (radio and TV).
- While we’re on that subject. Tara Halawa has made one of the most disgustingly one-sided BBC videos, whitewashing antisemitism, we have ever seen. People like her are the reason antisemitism has been normalized.
- I’ve just checked Tala Halawa's feed. She’s supposed to be an unbiased BBC reporter. She’s an obsessive anti-Israel campaigner.
- We’ve found out why Tala Halawa is promoting an antisemite:
BBC, can you explain why your journalist Tala Halawa is stating that “Hitler was right”? This is absolutely disgusting antisemitism.
Update - She's now protected her Twitter account.
Sunday, 16 May 2021
During an operation in Gaza last week, the Israel Defence Forces attacked a Hamas tunnel complex with 12 squadrons of 160 combat planes striking over 150 targets with hundreds of bunker-busting JDAMs [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] in less than an hour. Although the battle damage assessment is still underway, the raid destroyed perhaps the most critical element of Hamas infrastructure, wiping out vast stocks of munitions and likely killing dozens if not hundreds of fighters. This was a hammer blow to Hamas and may prove to be a turning point in the conflict. It also sent a powerful message to Iran and Hizballah, foretelling the consequences of an assault on Israel with their arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon.The IDF operation was a carefully coordinated combination of intelligence, surveillance, knowledge of enemy tactics, deception, surprise, and precisely targeted, overwhelming force. Of all these, deception and surprise were key. Surprise is a principle of war in the American, British and many other forces, defined in the US Army Field Manual as "striking the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared." The manual goes on to say: "Deception can aid the probability of achieving surprise". Throughout the history of warfare, surprise achieved through deception has led to many stunning military victories — often against the odds.
Saturday, 15 May 2021
Really, can't think why!!??— SussexFriendsofIsrael (@SussexFriends) May 14, 2021
BBC opens special complaints page over coverage of Israel-Palestine violence https://t.co/U9qPxf4Wb3
Though the focus is now on Gaza and southern Israel, It was events in Jerusalem that led to what we are seeing now.
[CRAIG - And what of the possibility, approaching certainty, that another key cause [perhaps THE main cause] is an intense power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, fuelled by elections cancelled by Fatah, with Hamas ferociously attempting to outbid Fatah in terms of inciting violence against Israel in Jerusalem, and elsewhere, in the hope of reaping the rewards, and that this ultra-heightened level of incitement has been strongly encouraged by Iran and Turkey, emboldened by a weak US president? Shush!!]
An Israeli court decided it was right to evict several Palestinian families from their homes
[CRAIG - So, an Israeli court put in the dock by Newsnight. Whether those homes really are their homes and whether they were reneging on the terms of their occupancy by refusing to pay their rent, suddenly, for some reason, right now, being just a few questions ignored by Newsnight.]
in occupied east Jerusalem.
[CRAIG - The Israelis didn't evict anyone. It's now gone to the Supreme Court - something else unmentioned here].
Last Friday those families and others had gathered to break their Ramadan fast
[CRAIG - nice and peaceful family stuff, with lots of invited onlookers].
but Jewish settlers came to make their presence felt and stake their claim to the homes.
[CRAIG - Israeli settlers - boo! - joining that Israeli court in the Newsnight dock].
It quickly led to scuffles. The UN and US condemned any forced evictions of Palestinians in east Jerusalem
[CRAIG - which didn't happen anyhow].
but the issue had already sparked more confrontation in Jerusalem,
[CRAIG - so that's just the Israeli side in the dock then, so far].
Israeli police using rubber bullets and stun grenades and water cannons.
[CRAIG - Ah, now the Israeli police are in the Newsnight dock].
But it was Monday when things escalated so dramatically. Israeli nationalists
[CRAIG - Israeli nationalists, step into the Newsnight dock please!]
prepared to march through the Muslim quarter to celebrate their country's capture
[CRAIG - ''capture'', eh?]
of east Jerusalem 54 years ago. Palestinians had been in the al-Aqsa Mosque, some ready to oppose the march
[CRAIG - BBC understatement! They stocked this holy site with rocks, Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and the like],
when Israeli police stormed
[CRAIG - ''stormed'', eh?]
the mosque compound, once again using force
[CRAIG - ''using force'', eh? Unlike the violent, well-stocked protestors inside the sacred mosque, spoiling for a fight, ]
in the form of sound bombs and rubber bullets but now at the doors of one of Islam's holiest sites.
[CRAIG - Must remember to stock my parish church with rocks, Mototov cocktails, firecrackers and the like. Not sure if my vicar would agree though. Should I ask Jeremy Bowen if he can recommend an imam from a mosque in and around Jerusalem?].
Around the compound Palestinians threw rocks and bottles
[CRAIG - yeah, and the rest Aleem].
and more that 300 were injured and as well as 21 Israeli police.
[CRAIG - Imagine how that would sound the other way round ''More than 21 Israel police were were injured, as well as over 300 rioters'].
Later, when a fire broke out
[CRAIG - Just 'broke out', did it? Wasn't started by Palestinian rioters accidentally setting a tree ablaze with one of their firecrackers, Aleem?]
at the mosque compound, Israelis were seen celebrating.
[CRAIG - ''Seen celebrating'', eh BBC? Leaping to conclusions without fact-checking, BBC? As it was the annual Jerusalem Day celebration, where thousands of Israelis gather each year, were the several foregrounded Israel people filmed dancing actually celebrating the fire around al-Aqsa, or just celebrating and getting filmed against a background of a burning tree on the Temple Mount? Not that bigoted, vicious Israeli Jews have been absent from the recent violence - unfortunately, far from it - and I'd been full for admiration for how the pro-Israel people I follow on Twitter have both brought up their actions and damned them unequivocally. But I can't find any evidence that these people were rejoicing at fires on the Haram esh-Sharif / Temple Mount complex rather than just rejoicing as they do, every year, even amid the horrors of recent days. Wrong place, wrong time, perhaps, for the people featured in that 'viral' footage, dancing as a tree burned on the night sky as the backdrop of their celebrations? Or maybe, entirely guilty as charged by the like of Labour's Naz? But shouldn't the BBC do a huge amount of due diligence by trying to find out and not spouting off in a potentially inflammatory way without evidence?]
This is not a story about buildings coming down, or a rocket count. It is about civilians suddenly being thrown into despair. A boy in Gaza running to a coffin, after his father and elder brother were killed. Dozens have now died. Panic and fear etched on the faces of those in Ashkelon in Israel as the warning sirens go off again and where the number of dead rises there too. Today started with more air strikes in Gaza, this tiny densely packed territory, just 25 miles long, five miles across, given a deadly wake up call. And the day was punctuated with more massive bombardment, Israel saying it is targeting places associated with senior figures in Hamas. And while militants have been killed, many civilians, including children, are known to be among the dead. And if they haven't lost relatives, more and more of those living in this impoverished strip are losing their homes and belongings, and are in fear. Overnight, militant groups in Gaza sent a huge barrage of rockets into Israel. And while most were stopped, many did manage to get through, some hitting buildings. In Rashon LeTsizon a 50-year-old woman became one of six Israelis who have now been killed. So how did we get here?
Several rockets were fired from Gaza, and although they were shot down Israel decided to hit back hard, with air strikes across the Gaza Strip. It said it was targeting militants but of nearly 30 people were ten children including a four-year-old and 6-year-old. By Tuesday, it felt like a point of no return had been crossed and Gaza had, as has happened so many times in the past, become the cauldron of conflict. For the most part, Gazans do not appear to blame the Palestinian militants or the rocket fire for bringing this catastrophe on them, saying it their occupier that is the aggressor. But Israel says this is entirely the fault of Hamas and that it will continue its military action. With neither side backing down, the funerals look set to keep coming for days.
You mentioned appeals for calm coming from abroad, but this is not going to end, I think, until both sides can find a way of declaring a victory that they like. Hamas will want to be able to say that they defended Palestinians and Jerusalem, and Israelis want to do something that they call "restoring deterrence", which essentially means giving a good hammering to anybody who raises a hand against them. So I think that this has got some way to go at the moment. The ''disproportionality'' charge was there too, of course, in his sneer about Israel ''giving a good hammering to anybody who raises a hand against them''.
Living the dream (again) sitting on my bags on the pavement at Heathrow waiting for a plane I might not be able to board… no seats in the terminal. journalism in action pic.twitter.com/JyMTNgjClp— Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) May 12, 2021
A tower block that is the base for international media in Gaza has been hit by an Israeli bombardment, causing it to collapse.— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 15, 2021
People inside were warned about an hour before it was attacked and, at this stage, there are no known casualties.
Read more: https://t.co/aebk62o8nU pic.twitter.com/OZeyD90C0o