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. 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.
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.
This morning they came across a BBC journalist called Tala Halawa, whose LinkedIn page reads:
Company Name: BBC Monitoring
Dates Employed: Jul 2017 – Present
Employment Duration: 3 yrs 11 mos
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''.
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.
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.
His whole piece was geared towards making one main point: that 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 (a) kept 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.
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.
"F**k the Jews" "F**k their daughters" "F**k their mothers" "Rape their daughters"
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?
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.
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
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?''