All in the Mind

Looking again at Justin Webb’s recent remark that US broadcasters see British rules about impartiality as an attack on freedom of speech, I did wonder whether he sees it that way too. I also wondered what he thinks impartiality actually is. Maybe he sees it as not being free to lay his own political views on the table during political interviews. Maybe instead of playing devil’s advocate, he longs to just play devil. But he’s not allowed to, so he dutifully does his job as best he can.
However, as we know, when we criticise the BBC, reining in their personal opinions a little bit is not what we mean by impartiality. We detect it in tone of voice, ‘interruption quotient’, imbalance of subject matter, selectivity of interviewee and expert witness, and much much more. One of its most slippery manifestations, though, is bias by omission, and this shows up particularly in material that has anything to do with Islam.
The fear of “stirring something up” is palpable. The most recent example is the ‘Asian grooming’ issue, which can’t be discussed freely for fear of inciting the BNP, or causing a backlash, or worse, major civil disobedience.
I often link to Elder of Ziyon’s website, which is an invaluable source of information for anybody with an interest in Israel and the Middle East. It tracks the astonishing political shenanigans that take place in the Arab World as well as Israel-related goings-on.
If only the BBC were to tell us of some of the vitally important things they studiously ignore, I could probably hang up my keyboard, and we could live happily ever after. Or maybe not.
There is considerable evidence that most Arabs and their leaders are far from the earnest seekers of peace the BBC would have us believe they are. Their mindset is light years away from ours. We considers duplicity to be a character flaw. In stark contrast, many Arab leaders seem to relish getting away with trickery and deceit. With considerable ingenuity they tailor the speech to suit the audience, proudly providing each party with what it wants to hear, inciting hatred and whipping up self pity and smouldering resentment in front of their Islamic audience.
Mahmoud Abbas for example, our so-called partner for peace, has been telling the West that he wants peace with Israel, while addressing the wider Arab world in Arabic, in speeches calling for their help in eliminating Israel.

Even those who view the situation exclusively through BBC’s Palestinian-promoting news-filtering mechanism must view the assumption that peace will automatically follow on from the establishment of a separate Palestinian state with some suspicion. All the violence, terrorism and religious extremism that blights the Islamic world isn’t enough to convince the Western world that the I/P conflict is neither a regional dispute over land, nor a flashpoint that justifies the whole Muslim world’s discontent. We should see Israel as the West’s canary. Its vulnerability symbolises our own, and its potential annihilation would presage our own. Islam is causing trouble everywhere. Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, everywhere.

In Lebanon Jeremy Bowen is too preoccupied with his vineyard story to notice that Hizbollah cannot accept that the UN might hold it responsible for the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister. A minor detail – they were responsible for it. Much of the trouble emanating form this will be directed at Israel.

Several Qassam rockets have been fired from Gaza recently, but the BBC Twits are too busy tweeting politically-motivated gossip amongst themselves to notice.

A fascinating article on Elder of Ziyon’s blog which originally appeared in a German magazine called Cicero describes an interview with a 23 year old, highly educated resident of the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. She studied here in the UK and has a fetching English accent. It explains that UNRWA has bestowed, exclusively upon Palestinians, everlasting refugee status. For Palestinians alone, this can extend over the generations. This young lady is passionately determined that one day there will be a single state – ‘from the river to the sea’ – where eight million descendants of the 1948 refugees will return to settle in Israel. She will be satisfied with nothing less. She herself has never been there, and she may or may not know that 54% of East Jerusalem Arabs would rather live in Israel than in a future Palestinian state.

This gives a glimpse of the mindset that is making peace unachievable. Another compelling study of the Arab state of mind is set out in the form of an excerpt from an awesome piece of journalism from the 1960s by the redoubtable Martha Gellhorn. I know following links is tiresome and tedious, but please if you only follow one, let it be that one. Elder has selected a passage from Gellhorn’s lengthy and detailed study of the history of Palestinian Arabs. Now that’s Journalism. Is there anyone at the BBC who is capable of undertaking such a project, even if there was a sudden, miraculous, uncharacteristic desire to try?

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26 Responses to All in the Mind

  1. john in cheshire says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you.


  2. Deborah says:

    Can I second John in Cheshire?

    I really thought that after September 11 that the West’s press would begin to understand what was happening in Israel to Jews in the Diaspora.  I cannot believe how it came to be otherwise.


  3. edward bowman says:

    I have just read this weeks jewish Chronicle. Their main headline and following two pages is basically asking Israel to surrender.With contributions from aJordanian, a Palestinian and an israeli who want a change of government. jewish Book week is hosting Gideon Levy with a talk called “The Punishment of Gaza”. The Board of deputies seem almost entirely uncomfortable even, possibly, ashamed and Melanie Philips is labeled as ‘Controversial”. Finally Robert Wistrich thinks thet the UK is just about the most anti semitic country that he can think of and that the Jewish Community is far too supine. Could he be right?


    • Demon1001 says:

      In answer to your comments about which is the most anti-semitic country I would suggest virtually all muslim countries would come before the UK.  I have noticed that the British people are being led by an apparently anti-semitic BBC into a new form of anti-semitism called anti-Israeli government, anti-Zionist or anti-Israel’s right to exist. 

      The extremity of the anti depends on how far the person has followed the BBC line.  If the ME had been reported fairly, the British people would be far more supportive of a state that is very much more like ours than the myriad dictatorships around it.  There are always a few anti-semites about but it appears to be on the increase with the indoctrination by the BBC and many in the educational establishment.


  4. Grant says:

    Excellent, Sue,  and I did follow the link to Martha Gellhorn.

    Having personal experiences of Arabs in the middle-east, nothing surprises me. The question is, are Beeboids aware of Arab mentality and behaviour and don’t report it , or are they so stupid, they believe everything Arabs and Arab-lovers tell them.

    My introduction to the subject was the excellent book “The Closed Circle”  by David Pryce-Jones, published in the late-1980s , which pretty much strips the Arab mind bare. Don’t know if it is still in print.


  5. Grant says:

    I haven’t caught up with the BBC’s reporting of the demonstrations in Tunisia.  Arab dictatorship being challenged by the secular middle class.
    If Iran is anything to go by, the Beeboids will side with the Dictators.


  6. David Mosque says:

    outstanding summary – thank you


  7. Dr A says:

    I just caught the great proletarian Rupert Wingfield-Hayes with the usual emotional porn from Gaza. No surprises – the predictable sob stories from Islamist Gazan losers  and all blame – natch – against the joos. No mention of the Israeli families who suffer Islamist aggression… not even an attempt at balance. Pretty much what we expect from the stinking BBC.


  8. Henry Wood says:

    “We should see Israel as the West’s canary.”

    Yes, indeed, though when *our* canary in the coalmine one day succumbs to a sudden onslaught of the 1000’s of rockets and missiles presently being primed and made ready to fire at the West’s canary, just what in the heck do you think *our* Western “leaders”  will do when *our* canary possibly expires through lack of support?

    I’ll tell you what they will do:

    They will explain in gobbledegook, double talk and newspeak phrases how that *huge* canary was not quite the little dicky-boid we thought it all to be. In fact, it was quite a *monster* according to very many EU and UN representatives of “truth and justice”.

    Now, while we might may be saying our prayers over that dead canary’s body, our “leaders” will be telling us:


    *THEY* were in “fact” good people who never, ever let their “peaceful” religion attack such things as birds.

    They therefore protected us from the evil canary and we (the guvment *&* the BBC) trust that in this broadcast of the truth, the canary killers will put us at the back of the queue next time they go hunting.



    • Grant says:

      Henry Wood,
      Very perceptive post. I fear that you are right.
      By the way, I am a great fan of the proms ( though I am sure the BBC would get rid of them if they could ), so thank you very much.


  9. TrueToo says:

    Elder has selected a passage from Gellhorn’s lengthy and detailed study of the history of Palestinian Arabs. Now that’s Journalism. Is there anyone at the BBC who is capable of undertaking such a project, even if there was a sudden, miraculous, uncharacteristic desire to try?

    Nope, not even close. BBC “journalists” and their fellow travelers see the Jews as the usurpers and the Arabs as the victims, and their reporting is based on this premise, which is as unshakeable as it is false. Even as far back as 1967 wishful-thinking BBC “editors” would not accept that the Jews were quickly and comprehensively hammering the Arabs in the Six-Day war.

    Here’s a fascinating account of that fact from Battleground: fact and fantasy by Samuel Katz, page 137:

    The effect of the Arab reports was not achieved without the assistanceof  foreign news media which, credulously or in wishful eagerness, spread them…. The British Broadcasting Corporation served as a main instrument of the Arab information services, publicly repeating even the most improbable of their reports and severely censoring the only version of events – from its reporter in jerusalem – that corresponded to the truth. Many hours after the officer commanding the Israeli Air Force had announced the destruction of the Egyptian Air Force, British newspapers were still debating whether Britain could stand aside and see Israel destroyed.
    (See The Six Day War Randolph S. Churchill and Winston S. Churchill, London 1967, Chapter 8 and Appendix 1)

    And from page 196/7:

    Those responsible for British policy have not yet forgiven the lowly Jews for having forced them to relinquish Palestine; and by some strange logic, the doctrine governing policy towards Palestine has not changed since the days when Whitehall planned and shaped events from the Persian Gulf to the borders of Libya.

    This was clear from the sometimes ludicrously anti-Israeli attitudes that continued to be struck by the ideological mentor of the Foreign Office, the Royal Institute of International Afairs, and its faithful handmaiden, the BBC.

    Battleground was published in 1973. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


  10. Ian E says:

    Funny how Webb dislikes Fox News’ freedom of speech!


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      If ol’ Justin thinks the US media is damaged goods due to the lack of an impartiality rule, how can anyone defend the BBC’s reporting by saying they’re in line with the US media’s narrative on a given story (e.g. the Tucson shootings being blamed on Sarah Palin and Fox News)?

      Answers on a grain of rice…..


  11. Techno Mystic says:

    Good post and good article by Gellhorn.  Children are not born empathetic, they are taught to care how people feel by parents and teachers etc.  If they do not get this socialisation then I can see how they can grow up lacking in empathy, and from what I know about Muslims they don’t get trained in empathy, they have to spend hours a day memorising the Koran etc.

    With regards to impartiality the USA abandoned its Fairness Doctrine in the 1980s because it was felt to be obsolete and having a chilling effect on journalistic endeavour.  In Britain we are not allowed to have a British version of Fox because it would break the OFCOM impartiality rule, yet Al Jazeera and Press TV can freely broadcast here.  Will any politician address this glaring inconsistency?  Don’t hold your breath.


  12. The Aurelian says:

    A wonderful post, Sue, saying things that need to be said.
    Thank you.


  13. Michael D says:


    The revolt in Tunisia illustrates a glaring, woeful inadequacy of BBC reporting from the ME (or the Arab World).

    Suddenly we realise that for more than a quarter of a century the people of Tunisia have been oppressed, tortured, silenced, impoverished and abused by a nepotistic tyrant.

    Which raises an obvious question: where the xxxx has the BBC been in that 26 years?  Has there been a SINGLE report from Tunisia detailing the tyrannical rule of Ben Ali? Not to my knowledge, and if you seach the archive, not much there either.

    No hand-wringing Jeremy Bowen. No fatboy John Simpson with his egotistical reports.  No Alan Johnston, or Rupert Whatisname, or Wyre Davis. No Orla Effing Guerrin, or weeping Barbara Plett, or Cringing Tim Franks or any of the other stinking, whining Beeboids. None. With al their 836393645 overpaid, pampered Middle East Bureau staff – not one report. It really is a scandal. How useless can you be???

    So why the total silence? Don’t Arab lives count for anything more than a stick to beat joos  and Americans with? Doesn’t democracy, and freedom, and enlightenment values and common humanity mean anything to these self-indulgent bigots? Don’t the basic demands of ordinary objective journalism have any currency? Obviously not.

    And remember – the same is happening in Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and just anout everywhere else in the stinking, sinking Muslim world. But not a word  from the BBC.

    Why? I’ll tell you why. Because al the stinking BBC thinks about is joos and how to undermine them and the one free democracy in the ME.

    Nothing else matters to these people.


  14. Craig says:

    This is very true. Not a single article on the BBC website about Ben Ali’s oppressive socialist rule between October 2006 and August 2009, and that one in 2006 was only because Ben Ali offended BBC sensibilities by banning Islamic headscarves. Where were the BBC during these years? All in Israel probably.


  15. Craig says:

    George R’s predicted likely Islamist takeover of Tunisia may be about the get the BBC’s blessing if this morning’s Broadcasting House (Radio 4) is anything to go by.  
    The programme put in a call to the daughter of one of the exiled opposition leaders and, almost inevitably, it was an Islamist politician: “Yusra Khreeji is the daughter of Rached Ghannouchi, the chairman of the Tunisian moderate Islamist En Nahda movement”.  
    When the likes of Paddy O’Connell call an Islamist movement “moderate”, we know from experience that this probably needs taking with a large pinch of salt.  Does a “moderate” man really believe that Zionists are plotting to take over the world? Sheikh Ghannouchi does:  
    The Zionist project wants to inherit our Ummah and inherit the West itself. It wants to lead the world. After (the natural shift of) the center of civilization from London to Washington, it wants to move it to Orshalim (Jerusalem) and destroy all other civilizational and religious projects we have today.
    Paddy O’Connell asked Ms Khreeji nothing about her father’s ideology.


  16. familyjaffa says:

    John Ging leaving UNWRA.

    “After the war, he described Gaza as having been “back to the stone age”.

    That’s the stone age of Olympic swimming pools, shopping malls etc etc.

    But this bit is the best…

    “Unrwa works with Palestinian refugees driven out of their homes after the state of Israel was created in 1948.”

    Is it any wonder that the ordinary man on the Clapham omnibus has a warped view of the Israel/Palestine situation?


  17. TrueToo says:

    Well, he might be leaving UNRWA, but where else will he be spreading his anti-Israel poison?