Sunday, 1 August 2021

August Continuing Open Thread

Hello to August. Time for a new open thread. Thank you for your comments.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

July Continuing Open Thread


Broadcasting House, under construction in the 1930s


It's July live across the world, so time for a new open thread. Thank you for your comments.

Has the BBC fact-checked this?


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. 

Alex Scott proud of accent amid criticism from Lord Jones - BBC News

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

Doctor, Doctor

Desperately specialist subject territory perhaps, but as discussed on the open thread...

Forget plummeting through sci-fi wormholes. The BBC's Doctor Who's ratings have in scientific reality hurtled down the plughole in recent years. 

As Buzz BBC would say - ''To infinity and wherever what we flush away goes to and beyond!''

Departing box-ticking, white, middle-aged, big-boned 'woke bloke' Chris Chibnall's unsuccessful reign as showrunner, with Jodie Whittaker as his Doctor [The First Female Doctor], saw the gradual fall-off under their immediate predecessors [Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi] haemorrhage into an either-switch-off-or-turn-over avalanche of desertification of Biblical proportions. 

[Not that they had avalanches in the Bible.] 

Episode 1 of the first Jodie series began with well over 10 million viewers while the final episode of series 2 ended up sinking under 4 million. 

Many have claimed that this is classic 'Go woke, go broke' territory, with sledgehammer political point-making taking over from good story-telling and proper character development, and viewers switching off as a result - quite literally in their millions. 

And there's certainly a lot of truth to that. 

Some of the scripts truly stank to Skaro - and to Betelgeuse and beyond. 

The ticked-off, plodding, half-baked 'wokery' went far off the scale in episode after episode after episode with almost comical regularity, including actual out-and-out tell-not-show lectures from Doctor Jodie on everything from climate change to racism.


But questions of box-ticking and 'woke'-pandering aside, the acting also left a lot to be desired. 

People keep being nice to her - as they should. But, being kind, Jodie Whittaker has been a poor Doctor Who impersonator at best, aping the most popular recent incarnation David Tennant and failing. The role hasn't suited her, and she's not suited it. 

And yet the BBC, reporting her and Big Useless Chib's departure in 2022 today, has been accentuating the positive. 

They claimed, via a 'woke' gathering's Radio Times poll, that she was the second most favourite Doctor ever - which only proves that echo chamber polls are worthless.

The ratings contradict that Radio Times poll - a dodgy poll, which the BBC New website's report on this story cites.

I've a pretty clear idea of who the online Radio Times demographic consists of. So I think this poll is pretty much as context-reliant as any poll on this site might be in answer to a question about whether the BBC is biased or not. 

Of course people who respond to Radio Times polls are going to say 'Jodie Whittaker' as their second favourite Doctor Who. Their chosen mag has been one of her biggest cheerleaders after all, and their [small] demographic is just the sort who, even ever really bothering about the programme, would vote Jodie above Tom Baker or Jon Pertwee, or even Matt Smith with a click just for purely ideological reasons.

And most True Whovians think Jodie's been next to useless too, failing to embody their favourite character.

Yes, the freefall viewing figures and all those popular YouTube channels despising the Chibnall era's 'ruining' of 'fandom lore' are probably a far better guide. 

Many long-term fans would happily set the Daleks onto Mr Chibs to do unto him what Daleks keep on endlessly repeating what they want to do unto everyone else.

ExChibinate. ExChibinate. 

And multitudes of hardcore, lifelong fans didn't admire Jodie's bizarrely hostile attitude to the show's past and fans when she said, on being first made The Doctor, that she'd not watched the show before but deplored its male gaze.


Still, in fairness to Jodie, her diverse companions have been even worse. 

Offended pieces of wood have complained to the Met about 'hate crimes' after being compared to Jodie's companions' acting abilities - with the possible exception of Bradley Walsh, who dialled it in as well as anyone could given the rubbish scripts and the paint-by-dots-not-very-well characterisation given him by Chibs and Co. 

Despite heavy competition from Ryan - the thumb-sucking black lad with a deadbeat dad and dyspraxia who mostly stood around like a jammed door, except when turning into Clint Eastwood and unerringly overcoming his disability and blasting just-stand-and-take-it guardian robots and pathetic cannon-fodder Cybermen to hell....

....the worst companion in recent years and Doctor Who history has been Yaz, the under-characterised female Muslim police officer, who has done nothing whatsoever except to be dull, and flirt with her female Doctor, and be useless and obnoxious. 

The scriptwriters, in a truly cringeworthy moment, even had Bradley's character call her pretty much the most wonderful person in the universe in an episode in which she did nothing except say things the merest minimum the plot required her to say while Chib's hapless Cybermen rampaged around helplessly getting easily popped off - like men in most BBC dramas do these days.

Ms Perfect - our boring, useless, Muslim female Yaz who does nothing yet is the BBC's poster gal for Doctor Who


Still, however dull and unsatisfying Yaz and The First Female Doctor have been, some fans of box-ticking still wish them well. 

[SPOILER on the The First Female Doctor thing, if you're a year behind and not a nerd. 'Woke white bloke' Chris Chibnall wrote the last episode for the last series and 'revealed' that William Hartnell wasn't the first Doctor. The first doctor was a little black girl. I kid you not.]

One such said yesterday, ''Have to confess I still hold out a hope to see these two marvellous women adventure on their own in the Tardis for a while before Jodie leaves.'' 

That tweeter posted an image of Doctor Jodie and Yaz - the worst Doctor and the worst companion, according to many fans. But both women.

So the presence in the next series of a white, middle-aged male like comedian John Bishop - which prompted that comment - clearly leaves this person feeling disappointed. 

She evidently wanted the just cosplay First Female Doctor and her personality-free-yet-strangely-obnoxious female Muslim companion to explore the universe by themselves, without a male. 

Old-fashioned feminist girl power maybe, and it almost makes me hope than a transwoman [i.e. a man] is made the next Doctor. 

Well, if it's any consolation to this tweeter, if the trailer is anything to go by John Bishop will play the new archetype of middle-aged, white masculinity - a bumbling, absolute laughing stock - so everything will be fine.

And if you're wondering who tweeted this, yes, it was BBC Newswatch's Samira Ahmed - the impartial BBC's impartial watchdog.


So now everyone's guessing who the next showrunner and Doctor will be.

In the spirit of GB News impartiality and blogs hereabouts, I'm naming Dame Katie Hopkins as the next Doctor and Sir Nigel Farage as the next showrunner. 

I'm hoping for an episode featuring the Sea Devils and Silurians floating across the English Channel in dinghies and The Doctor using his/her/its/gltiqt+/wtf sonic screwdriver to defeat the evil people traffickers and deliver the Sea Devils and Silurians back to the place of safety from whence they came.

France. 🐌

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Not Another One

Bashir and Asma al-Assad at their betrothal

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

We need to talk about bias

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

Another Tala Halawa?

It's a hot Saturday evening, so I lazily checked Twitter and saw a tweet from Radio 4's Sunday programme:

Because of the whole Tala 'Hitler was right' Halawa affair, I just as lazily Googled 'Emb Hashmi'.

Her Twitter feed describes herself as ''BBC journalist''.

Her LinkedIn profile describes herself as ''award winning journalist at BBC'' and states that she joined the BBC in April 2014.

Just because of the Tala Halawa business, I then - not expecting anything - did a quick Twitter search for Emb's past tweets using two search terms, 'Israel' and 'Gaza' - not expecting to find anything remotely Tala-like. 

But I found these:

If her LinkedIn page is correct, she joined the BBC before these anti-Israel tweets. 🤔

Friday, 18 June 2021

June Continuing Open Thread

It's very much time for June and a new open thread. 

Hello all, and thank you all for continuing to comment.

GB News (?)


I quite like GB News. Once they've sorted out the sound. And the vision. It isn't really "News" though, is it?

Personal Feelings Matter.

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) 

“and anyway” 

they continued, 

“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.


This individual no longer works for the BBC.

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

What did you make of it?

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.

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

May Continuing Open Thread


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.

Is the BBC 'more Nazi than Hitler'?

The indefatigable GnasherJew account on Twitter continues to highlight and fight antisemitism. 

This morning they came across a BBC journalist called Tala Halawa, whose LinkedIn page reads:
Digital Journalist
Company Name: BBC Monitoring
Dates Employed: Jul 2017 – Present
Employment Duration: 3 yrs 11 mos
Location: Ramallah
Palestine 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).
GnasherJew was objecting to the BBC and the Independent promoting someone they consider an antisemite [Eman Asker] and Tara Halawa of the BBC was one of those criticised for considering this particular person ''an acceptable voice to promote on Israel/Palestine''.

Here's how the thread continues:

  • 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:

She's deleted her #HitlerWasRight tweet now, but it's been captured for posterity:

More difficult questions today for the BBC it appears, and GnasherJew has already begun asking them:
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

Conversations about Gaza [2]


SUE - Col Richard Kemp’s authoritative views on military matters - notably other than I/P - are occasionally sought by the BBC. He is a staunch supporter of Israel and a huge admirer of the moral integrity of the Israeli Defence Force. His military expertise and intimate knowledge of the IDF is unique.

As well as through Twitter - it wouldn’t surprise me if he is Twitter-cancelled anytime soon - his insights appear regularly on Gatestone Institute
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.
The usual crowd is up in arms about this, proclaiming “Assault on press freedom! “ and “No evidence of Hamas’s presence in the media centre’s tower block!”

If one can access viral videos from heaven above, Fred Dibnah must be looking down at the surgical precision of the demolition with awe.

To be honest, I couldn’t care less whether Hamas personnel were there or not.

Propaganda is known to be as dangerous a weapon of war as Mishal Husain’s infamous arsenal of ‘homemade contraptions’. The left-leaning mainstream media also known as The Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is terrified of angering the ‘already angry’ Muslim community and collectively furious that the IDF exploited their very own left-wing journalistic anti-Israel zeal, knowing that they would be eager to disseminate one particular piece of fake news - namely that the IDF were on stand-by to invade Gaza. This they duly did so effectively that the brave warriors of Hamas scuttled underground to take shelter and hopefully eliminated in one fell swoop. (Echoes of a certain Iranian strategy for ridding the world of Jews).

As Nasrallah famously boasted “if they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”


More notable areas of one-sided reporting include the media’s tedious parroting of Hamas’s special death-toll figures, which conflate casualties from their own ‘shortfall’ accidents with the unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ that occurs as a result of Hamas’s ‘human shield ‘practices, which they know they can get away with due to the Western media’s ideological hostility to Israel.


Why the UK’s media is so mealy-mouthed in their condemnation of Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, Islamism is understandable, but will be viewed - retrospectively - as a betrayal. Short-term gain, maybe, considering ‘demographics’ (the rise in antisemitism, civil unrest, BLM, the Labour Party etc etc) but long-term pain. Looking back, will future generations regret the West’s capitulation to Islam?

When I see an Israel-related article in the “non-left-wing press’ such as the Times or the Spectator, I am usually appalled by the politically correct editorial reins and restraints that abound. Nowadays I feel I have to skip straight to below the line for remedial reassurance that not everyone is taken in by it. Some of the ‘tell it like it is’ contributions are spot on. It still chills one to see the overtly antisemitic contributions from certain regulars amongst it all.

One exception is the Australian version of Sky. They have some Fox News-like pundits on their staff. Although subtlety doesn’t seem to be their strong point, it’s comforting to know that not everyone on this planet is out to crush you. Mind you, in view of America’s terrifying political about-turn, the UN’s and the ICC’s staggeringly unhinged anti-Israel animus, it looks like a gathering storm, all too reminiscent of the 1930s.

CRAIG - Col Kemp is a rare voice of informed reason these days. 

Mishal Husain's infamous conflated, comparative body count is back. 


Jeremy Bowen used it on From Our Own Correspondent yesterday while lecturing about 'proportionality'. 

His whole piece was geared towards making one main pointthat Israel is acting disproportionately (as if he'd ever come to any other conclusion).

Well, that's his view. 

In the past you might have expected that prominent BBC journalists would have either (akept their opinions to themselves or (b) expressed an opinion that sided with democracy against terrorists and their supporters, but not now. It's op-eds all the way from the BBC's Middle East Editor.

Here, as so often, he does the 'moral equivalence' thing first, then blames Israel. 

SUE - For the integrity of this blog we’ve been focussing on the media’s bias rather than opining on the actual issues.

After all, what do I know? All I can do is digest as much available information and analysis as I can stomach and inject a little empirical evidence into it.

An HoL speech from 2009 by Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale (Labour) sticks in my mind. Perhaps because this baroness was a Labour Peer (not a ghastly Tory) it seemed extra significant and worth bearing in mind.

I first visited Gaza in August 1967, when Israel had taken control only a few weeks before. As I have said before in this House, I found Gaza an absolute hellhole. It is not easy to understand, and it is even more difficult to forgive, how prosperous Arab countries allowed their Palestinian brethren to live in such wretched conditions from 1948 to 1967.

[Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale Labour 10:51 am, 6th February 2009].

The implications here are profound. I probably don’t need to spell it out. Suffice it to say that when Israel did occupy Gaza after the six-day war (1967) the inhabitants’ conditions improved dramatically, most notably average life expectancy. However, Israel decided to make a disastrous but well-intentioned concession “for peace’! They evicted the Jewish residents and pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and You Know The Rest. As the well-worn Israel-bashing innuendo goes, “lessons should have been learned.” But they never seem to be.

The ease with which lazy and inaccurate memes are parroted is another pincer-prong with which the anti-Israel movement encircles its enemy. Naz Shah has taken full advantage of it, as Craig set out in part 1.

For Naz and her fan base, Tweeting about Palestinians ‘being kicked out of their homes’ was enough. And adding: Jews ‘celebrating the burning of a place of worship’ as if that needed no further examination. We await a sincere apology for the error and the humble pledge not to do it again. With bated breath.

One of the most egregious and ongoing omissions from Western media as a whole is the non-reporting of the vicious incitement that pours from the Islamic world. No story, no analysis, no curiosity. It has to be more than simple respect for other religions that’s preventing our renowned investigative journalists from ‘investigating’ this phenomenon. For example, the PA’s so-called Pay-For-Slay. This policy must be a drain on the PA’s GDP, and the monies would obviously be far better spent on bomb shelters or health care; surely that issue is worth exploring in one of the BBC’s hard-hitting documentaries (!). Mahmoud Abbas must be so confident of the media’s silence on the matter that he doesn’t even make an effort to keep it secret.

What about the unadulterated par-for-the-course anti-Jew racism entrenched in Palestinian culture? Racism is the most taboo of all ‘isms’ these days, yet there’s a collective silence over the racism that is part and parcel of the Arab psyche. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but this looks like a conspiracy of silence.

Some of the excuses dredged up to justify Palestinian aggression crumble under cursory scrutiny. The ‘evictions’ of those Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah is one such. The inflammatory story has been debunked - in purely legal terms by law-orientated websites and in more nuanced non-professional terms by Uri Pilichowski who uses the handle ‘rational settler’. Yet it’s still used as a blunt weapon by the haters.

The UN Security Council is having an emergency meeting at the time of writing, I watched some of it on Sky. The Palestinian rep has appropriated all the arguments for the defence from Israel. He has regurgitated a litany of upside-down facts that are almost laughable. How anyone could be taken in by this nonsense I do not know. But no doubt they’ll swallow it.

This is going on in the UK.

There’s one glimmer at the end of the tunnel - at least Aussie Sky stands with Israel. 

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Conversations about Gaza [I]

SUE - We’re making this comeback, possibly a one-off - due to the exceptionally problematic media coverage of (how to put it) the current ‘Israel / Gaza’ war.

The BBC’s ‘domestic’ bias is capable of looking after itself on ITBB but we both think this topic merits special attention.

Unfortunately for the argument that we are about to make, most of the complaints are from people who like to believe that the BBC isn’t pro-Palestinian enough.

Global Chinese Whispers plays out like this. The media sets the stage. Feelings trump facts, and an inflammatory message travels around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on. We’ve covered much of this issue over the years, both on ITBB and (before 2012) over at Biased-BBC. It’s Remember the Hamas Bunny? MEMRI?

Alan M. Dershowitz goes down memory lane: This article was originally published in a slightly different form in 2009. Nothing has changed. And it’s déjà vu all over again again with the estimable Matti Friedman.

Not so long ago the many forms of media bias cited and defined by bias-watching fanatics like us would fall on deaf ears. Not so much now; we are no longer alone. The BBC is coming under much wider and closer scrutiny, partly due to the public’s belated recognition of the BBC’s left-wing, some say Marxist, agenda.

The comments in the non-left-wing press show how frequently that particular problem is alluded to in comments by interested members of the public. The bias is almost universally accepted as a given, which arguably downgrades ITBB to the status of self-indulgent irrelevance.

Obviously, the BBC is conscious of the criticism and perhaps it suspects its future depends on more rigorous compliance with its charter obligations, but even if it’s forced to adopt a genuine policy of impartiality over its output, other broadcasters (i.e., Sky, Channel 4) ain’t necessarily bovvered and can stir up trouble with impunity. The new BBC DG may have been ‘trying’, but his influence looks distinctly lip-servicey. When we get the obligatory ‘other side' of the story it’s delivered at arm’s length - impersonal - and framed with the disclaimer “Israel says”, which smacks of cynicism and a sarcastic voice comes on in my head as I read it.

The most pungent flower plucked from the bouquet of biased reporting is ‘omission’ where vital information is tacitly omitted or concealed, especially that concerning the religious indoctrination that underpins Palestinian rhetoric and incites violence against Jews.

And a close second, florid emoting. Gratuitously dwelling on the misery of one side. Loaded language; lazy, repetitive, and economical with the actualité.

[CRAIG - What follows are various parts of Sue and my email exchanges over recent days. Exclusive free, PREMIUM, director's cut material.]

CRAIG - You may already know this, but did you spot that Naz Shah returned to type? I've just not seen anyone commenting on it yet - though someone probably has and I've just missed - but I myself spotted three falsehoods from her in a single just-over-a-minute video, and I think it's newsworthy.

1. Israeli forces didn't attack innocent worshippers on the holiest of nights, in the holiest of places. [Those 'worshippers', stirred up by rhetoric from Palestinian leaders, had stocked the holy al-Asqa mosque with stones, firecrackers, and the like ready for violent protest]. 

2. Thousands of Israel weren't celebrating and chanting the burning of a place of worship. [It was a tree that was on fire, not the mosque, and it was accidentally set alight by the Palestinians, and the Israelis were celebrating an annual national day]. 

3. Settlers didn't illegally occupy or forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes. [The Palestinians are still there pending a Supreme Court ruling].

So, she made three statements, all wrong, and all attacking Israel.

Why has a Muslim Labour MP, who had to apologise for antisemitic anti-Israel tweets and was then widely portrayed in the media as being genuinely repentant, now reverted to blithely spreading lies about Israel?


I'm thinking that Naz Shah may have got her take on things from watching Aleem Maqbool's  misleading piece on Wednesday's Newsnight which chose its words so carefully as to make one side appear almost entirely in the wrong:
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?]

SUE - I did hear a leek Maqbool (autocorrect struck) speaking the other day but I’m thinking it was an abridged version, or maybe I was half asleep. The language he and his colleagues use is typically loaded and you are right that this kind of thing is where Naz and her ilk get their inspiration. Even in the first section of that transcription [below] there are clues that anyone with an interest in language could pick out:
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?
I mean Palis are always defined as ‘families’, usually with empathetic adjectives, whereas Israelis are held at arm’s length without “personalisation’. The lip service that is half-heartedly paid to balance is shamelessly gratuitous. Then there are the half-truths that have embedded themselves into the language such as ‘densely packed’. Then every single utterance about Israel’s action is reported as ‘Israel says” which implies reluctance at the compulsory obligation to ‘put the other side’. In fact, I’m sure that’s actually passive-aggressive.

And that’s even before the ‘how did we get here’ section.

The terms used are always emotive. Jewish Settlers. Right-wing. Etc. Not to mention the lazy, sloppy, malicious, deliberately misleading emoting throughout.

CRAIG - As we've quoted two-thirds of that report from Leeky Maqbool, as I'll think of him from now on, we might as well finish it off. This is how he ends it:
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.
First sentence, for starters: Just ''several'' rockets. Then Israel deciding to hit back hard ''although they were shot down'', making the Israeli response sound unreasonable, even disproportionate. And then comes another of those 'Israel says' phrases followed by a ''but'', i.e. language of contradiction. And another ''Israel says'' comes later, this time after a ''but''.

And there was a good example of Jeremy Bowen doing an ''Israel says'' on Thursday's BBC Breakfast. The ''they call'' bit was HIS emphasis:
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''.
What's happening in and around Israel at the moment is horrible, and worse than ever this time, with sectarian violence inside Israel adding to the usual story of genocidal terrorists trying to kill as many Jews as possible (and not caring how many of 'their own people' die in the process) and Israel robustly defending itself and being demonised for doing so. 

And then, as if things couldn't get any worse, Jeremy Bowen - the man with a deep personal grudge against the State of Israel, one he's been nursing for a couple of decades - pops up at Heathrow Airport announcing to the world that he's on his way.


"Heart of stone not to laugh!"

CRAIG  - David Collier just replied to AP about that; ''If AP, Al Jazeera and co didn't know that the very building they are reporting from in Gaza is used by Hamas to hide military assets - then maybe they should change jobs?''