Same Old story

Before 12:59, when it was updated, the top story on the BBC’s Middle East page was: “US urges Israel to end ‘isolation in Middle East’ “

Apparently US defence secretary Leon Panetta made another speech about Israel’s isolation.
Just get to the damn table” he urges Israel in his vernacularly vocal style.
Just the other day, in October to be precise, he said more or less the same thing: “The most important thing they can do is go to the negotiating table. You are not going to achieve Middle East peace by trying to slam-dunk it at the UN,” he said.

Okay we’ve already gathered he thinks Israel should make suicidal concessions.
This time he spoke of ‘mending fences,’ (unless they’re in Israel, where fences and building are obstacles to peace). According to the BBC Mr. Panetta also said, again, that Israel should ‘restart peace talks with the Palestinians.’
Surely he’s heard that the Palestinians tore up the rules when they ran off to the UN with their bid for statehood?
If not, he must at least have heard that Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Uncle Tom Cobley and all are being increasingly belligerent, and have stepped up the default blame-shifting for all their own internal failings, onto Israel.
Panetta must realise, surely, that a useful scapegoat will not be sacrificed lightly. The Arab World will cling on to these tactics as long as people are gullible enough to fall for them. Taking their conspiracy theories and bizarre distorted accusations against Israel at face-value, as Panetta obviously does, doesn’t show much political intelligence or judgement. Giving his views undue prominence by making his speech top story for several hours on their website with nary a squeak of criticism in sight is bound to look as though the BBC concurs and expects us to too.

See here, in a perceptive article in the Commentator entitled “Same Old Story in the new Middle East” Petra Marquardt Bigman includes these Jeffrey Goldberg quotes :

“the Syrian opposition finds it beneficial to spread the lie that Assad is a Jewish agent.” […..]“Once dictators used anti-Semitism to divert their citizens’ attention away from their own problems. Now expressions of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories seem to rise up organically.”

Leon Panetta thinks appeasing the Arab World will keep the West safe, and his repetitious outbursts make sure we know it. Repeating the same thing over and over may be one way of making your wishful thinking appear credible, but it still doesn’t make it true.
In the context of a plethora of more significant Middle East/World news stories, the BBC concentrates on that, ‘same old story’ speech, but deliberately turns a blind eye to what is slowly but surely dawning on others. The Arab Spring is turning into an enormous Islamist calamity, for Israel and the West, while the BBC fiddles with Jeremy Clarkson.

Wake up Call

“Now for a party political broadcast on behalf of Islam.”
Not heard in so many words on the BBC, but the strategy of bringing Muslims and Islam into our lives with a series of “they’re just like us” programming has been hammering away at the audience with the intensity of one of Saatchi’s finest ad campaigns.

As well as programmes about Islam itself, programmes about Muslim family life, programmes about Islamic culture, dramas with Muslim heroes, plots where all things Islamic are depicted as virtuous, often contrasted with some indigenous British scroungers, scoundrels and amoral good-for-nothings just in case we haven’t already got the message that Islam is thoroughly and benignly British, there is the increasing role Islamic preachers are playing in mainstream religious broadcasting.

This would be all very well if they were willing and able to openly mention and examine the negative characteristics associated with Islam and Islamist practices, as honestly and readily as they obviously expect us to accept all the rest of it.
When such things inevitably feature in the news, overtly politically correct attempts to distance them from the ‘religion of peace’ prevents the connection from being openly and realistically acknowledged. Not only terrorism, but honour killings and forced marriages. When we hear scary tales about these, it’s made very clear that they’re not exclusively Muslim, but Asian. Similarly, there are ‘unmentionable’ aspects of the sexual grooming phenomenon that are worth mentioning. Apparently statistics say the perpetrators of sex crimes are predominantly white, but the figures don’t show whether there are behaviour patterns and attitudes within this broad grouping that are specific to Asian gangs. There is also the unasked and unanswered question of whether Muslims’ alleged moral superiority makes it all the more incongruous that any of them indulge in this crime in the first place. Or does repressed sexuality and a contemptuous attitude towards non Muslims constitute an explosive combination?
Additionally, there’s the question of whether the number of sex crimes, or criminality in general by Muslim offenders is relative and proportionate to the population as a whole.
Must we assume that the high number of Muslims in the prison population is because of Islamophobia in the justice system, or unfair targeting of Muslims by the institutionally racist police? Or is it for some other mysterious reason.
All over the papers yesterday, but, at the time of writing, absent from the BBC, was the incident involving a Christian worker at Heathrow airport who allegedly lost her job after being bullied by Muslim colleagues. Most concerning to many of the online commenters was the predominance of overtly Muslim employees at the UK’s largest and busiest airport. The gateway to the UK gives new arrivals the impression that they’ve landed in an Islamic state. Several people alluded to foxes guarding the henhouse.

This morning’s Start the Week discussed the Arab Spring, and various speakers assured us the new Islamist ideologies are moderate and tolerant. Someone told Andrew Marr that Erdogan is so popular with the Turkish people “because of his attitude towards Israel and Syria.” This went unchallenged. Not unusual, because Andrew Marr habitually lets this sort of thing pass without a murmur. Criticism of Israel, the assumption that it’s evil, lumping it together with Syria, etc. is an everyday occurrence on that programme.

But just moments earlier, Today put out a lengthy promotional piece about Alan Yentob’s upcoming radio 4 programme on the dwindling number of Jews in Iraq. The trail even featured the remarkable Canon Andrew White ‘the vicar of Baghdad’, who told us that the recent Wikileaks exposure of their names and addresses put the lives of the seven remaining Jews still living there in grave danger.

During this feature John Humphrys sounded sympathetic to their plight and that of the thousands of Jews who had been hounded out of Iraq. No doubt, had he been involved in that conversation, Andrew Marr too would have responded sympathetically, and gone ‘mmmm,’ as he is wont to do. But the cognitive dissonance displayed here, by which I mean the disconnect between the BBC’s sympathy with persecuted Jews, alongside their own simultaneous compliance with and participation in Israel’s vilification is staggering.

Yet Alan Yentob’s programme information has this.
“Nazism, Arab-nationalism and anti-Zionist feeling created a wave of anti-Semitism“
In black and white, the BBC has allowed a writer to link Nazism with Arab-nationalism. They’ve even gone so far as to connect the terms ‘created’ and ‘a wave of antisemitism’. Normally, antisemitism is regarded by them as something that just exists, out of nowhere, and persecution of Jews arises from nothing, and is not created by Nazism and Arab Nationalism, nor fueled by the antismitism inherent in Islam.

A recent From Our Own Correspondent featured one of the few Jews remaining in Macedonia, an 89 year-old holocaust survivor who remembers the deportation of Macedonia’s Jews. In the same section of From Our Own Correspondent, the reporter himself, Mark Lowen, recounted a moving tale about his own grandmother, a concert pianist who had been sent, with her sister, to the concentration camp that was immortalised in the film “Schindler’s List.” Furthermore these items were briefly featured and linked to on a main BBC news webpage, under the heading ‘Features and Analysis’ before being relegated to another section.

Is this a sea change somewhere in the bowels of the BBC, or is it just part of the same ‘old one step forward, two steps back’ progress we’re more used to. The BBC is still some way off from connecting the current waves of antisemitism with events in the present day Arab world. They seem uncannily eager to impress upon us that every newly, or about-to-be, democratically elected Islamist party is moderate. The Muslim Brotherhood, Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that recently won the elections in Morocco, and last but not least our moderate friend Mahmoud Abbas. But it seems these moderates swiftly impose restrictions on the population as soon as they get the chance. Veils in universities, modest dress, polygamy and hatred of Jews, Israel and the West may seem moderate to some people, but surely not here in ‘Great’ Britain.

Programmes and items about the holocaust are not unusual. The BBC and the film industry have always been interested in depicting the holocaust. The pathos can sometimes appear self indulgent and gratuitous, but when people refer to “the holocaust industry” they don’t mean that. What they actually mean is that in their opinion the holocaust is being cynically and exploitatively used by Jews to shut down debate and act as a smokescreen to obscure the wrongdoings of Israel. This accusation works just the same in reverse, shutting down debate from the other side and unconvincingly masking the antisemitism that lies behind the accusation. Remembering the holocaust does more than beg for the universal sympathy vote. It reminds us how far things can escalate before they’re acknowledged, properly recognised and seen for what they really are. Hindsight shows how easily people can abandon reason, and should warn us to be vigilant lest history repeats. Be vigilant, BBC, and wake up.

Mud Sticks

You can’t do much about your reputation. A bad reputation can follow you like a shadow and place you at a considerable disadvantage in all your future endeavours.
Some movements, philosophies or ideologies are deemed so despicable that no affiliate or former member can ever dissociate themselves from the body’s loathsome reputation. But inexplicably, others with an equally ignominious record do it with ease.
Double standards exist. Some people can’t do a thing right, while others, apparently not for want of trying, just can’t put a foot wrong.

Take Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, representing the sunny-side of Islam. The commissioning editors of the BBC happily disregard all negative factors associated with the religion of peace, and give Shaykh Mogra a platform on radio 4 to preach to us every morning for a whole week, as though certain unmentionable issues had never raised their ugly heads. For instance Islam’s approach to women, to sex and to the non-believer; not to mention, literally, the antics of a certain publicity-seeking band of poppy-burning beardies, the Muslim Council of Britain’s duplicitous record, Islam’s inherent antisemitism, oh, and Islamic-inspired terrorism.

Ibriham Mogra can shayke off (sorry) all association with that nasty stuff and quote passages from the Koran as though butter wouldn’t melt in his beard. He evidently believes these unfortunate things are ‘nothing to do with me, guv.’
In stark contrast, certain other ideologies or movements are deemed ‘beyond the pale’. An individual associated with any of these despised bodies is automatically pushed into purgatory. Take the Nazi. Can there be a benign Nazi? At one end of the spectrum we have Goebbels and co., and at the milder end, the ‘gullible victim of propaganda’ and the ‘only following orders’ brand of Nazi. All are permanently regarded as personae non gratae, with the exception of one reformed Nazi who has made a convincing case by publicly denouncing his former incarnation and reinventing himself as the Pope. According to Wiki, Joseph Alois Ratzinger was “an unenthusiastic member” of the Hitler Youth all along, so that’s okay.

There’s little prospect of exoneration for Israel however. As far as the BBC is concerned Israel’s pariah status is set in stone. It is unremittingly portrayed as ‘beyond the pale’, and is seen by the BBC as indomitably fiendish, even though most of the evil-doing the BBC finds so unforgivable is a construct of their very own.

Organisations like the BNP can’t rehabilitate themselves. No matter how plausible he tries to be, Nick Griffin was caught on camera being racist and antisemitic, and his denials and ostensible changes of heart aren’t fooling anyone.
Similarly, Tommy Robinson has a lot of work to do on the EDL’s image before he’ll be able to distance himself from its reputation for thuggery and racism.
Incidentally, when the BBC set attack-dog Paxman onto ‘Tommy Robinson’, I doubt Paxo suspected he was in for a profound pasting. But that’s what he ended up with. The BBC was so confident that Robinson’s guilt-by-association was enough to crush him, that they didn’t bother to do any pre-interview research. In the event Paxo stabbed wildly and spuriously in all directions, and had to resort to making those faces. It probably wasn’t that particular humiliating fiasco of an interview that deterred the BBC from putting the good Shaykh up for a similar grilling before setting him up with a week’s worth of Prayers for the Day. But surely, if all things really were equal, they’d give Tommy a regular spot on the radio and send the Shaykh in for a couple of rounds with Paxo.

The BBC can brush aside the evil-doings of his religious compatriots, such as terrorism, wife beating, honour killing and gay-bashing, but can’t overlook alleged skinhead thuggery.
Every morning, for seven glorious days, Shayhk Mogra has been quoting some incomprehensible passages straight from the Koran for our edification.
On two occasions he assumed our fond familiarity with the Hajj, and an episode entitled “Kick Racism Out” contained the following:

“Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “O people, indeed your Lord and Sustainer is One and your ancestor is one. All of you descend from Adam and Adam was made of earth. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab nor for a non-Arab over an Arab; neither for a white person over a black person nor a black person over a white person except the superiority gained through righteousness. Indeed the noblest of you to God is the one who is most conscious of God.”

I wondered momentarily if the above-mentioned exception does subtly bestow superiority upon very ‘righteous’ Muslims, which by sleight of hand exempts me and the other kafir from being considered their equal. But I was all wrong, because he continued:

“Dear God, cleanse our hearts and give us the strength to be more righteous. Enable us to respect all human beings as equals and as members of Your family, amin.”

(‘Amin’ is Muslim for ‘Amen’)

Somehow Shaykh Mogra feels able to pick and choose which bits of the holy Koran he condones, and which bits he rejects. One of the latter is the death penalty for apostasy, which he says is outdated and old fashioned. But, would you adam an’ eve it, he’s sticking with the literal interpretation of the creation? “ All of you descend from Adam and Adam was made of earth.

His Pollyanna version of the ROP doesn’t mention the Jihad. But he’s not your typical Islamic cleric. Hizb ut-Tahrir calls him a ‘government linked sellout’ and, on apostasy: “Even the kafir reporter knows more on Islam sharia then[sic] Mogra!”

I’m afraid today’s prayer really takes the biscuit. It’s called Caring for Women.

If the BBC can pretend that Islam’s record of caring for women bears any relation to this sermon, I’d like to know how.
The next passage has something of the literary style of Enid Blyton about it:

“He who supports three daughters or sisters by educating them and being merciful to them until they become self sufficient, God will make Paradise compulsory for him.” A man then asked, “What about two daughters or sisters, will the same apply to two?” Another asked, “What about one daughter or sister?” Muhammad said, “The same applies to one daughter or sister.”

(I don’t know how respectfully Noddy and Big Ears treated women, but they had a very unPC reputation with regard to golliwogs.)
He continues:

“He who has a daughter and looks after her and does not disgrace her, nor does he prefer his sons over her, God will admit him to Paradise.”

Disgrace her? How? Oh never mind. Next week’s Prayers for the Day are by Alison Twaddle.

Not Taking Sides

We don’t take sides!” is a cry repeatedly heard from certain biased organisations that operate under banners of impartiality.
On the other hand, the foreign secretary isn’t constrained by such a banner. Nevertheless William Hague says the government isn’t taking sides on the intricacies of Egyptian politics.
We do take sides,” he admitted moments later, “on behalf of democracy!
Democracy must always be entirely for the good, it seems, even if the electorate have been brainwashed from birth into voting for distinctly undemocratic governments, as in the case of ‘democratically elected’ Hamas. Did I catch Hague praising the smooth-running and successful outcome of the elections in Tunisia? By Jove I think I did.
After strongly advocating motherhood and apple pie in Egypt and free and fair elections, preferably overseen by….. someone or other, Hague declaims:
We’ve seen successful elections in Tunisia, a new government is now being formed in Libya, important reforms are taking place in Morocco and Jordan, and so we should remain on the optimistic side of what’s been happening in the Arab Spring, albeit that there are many conflicts and difficulties along the way.
There’s a little test for Libya coming up, isn’t there?” asks Humph alluding to ‘unSaif’ Gaddafi jnr.
Blah blah blah, international standards.” says Hague.
Syria? “ asks Humph.
Ambassador delegate,” mumbles Hague. “pressure!” “Arab League! “Sanctions!” he drones.

Humph is meek and mild today. “What about Iran?” he ventures.
Waffle, waffle, waffle” goes Hague.
We don’t take sides, even in the (hidden) face of such female candidates as Muna Salah, whose manifesto is “Women Are Deficient in Intelligence and Religion, and It Is Not Permissible for Them to Be in Authority” Does Call me Dave know?

Is this ‘sitting on the fence’ malarkey official BBC policy now that florid featured Lord Patten is in charge? Has Humph been told to calm down dear? Only I’ve been looking at a report about Patten’s recent speech in which he is quoted as saying:
”The BBC is unable to conduct investigations into some of the most important stories of the day – including phone hacking – if they could be construed as having a political bias,
Poor old them. Hampered by those pesky impartiality obligations.
As a publicly funded broadcaster whose output is so directly intrusive, there are some areas where we ought to be particularly careful in our journalism or even decline to follow where newspapers or online journalism may properly lead,” Lord Patten said.
Penetrating observation that. Their output certainly is “so directly intrusive,” and that’s why so many people are hoodwinked and influenced by its barely hidden agenda.
Despite the BBC’s tradition of investigative journalism, it could not have paid for the information on MPs’ expenses as the Daily Telegraph did, nor pursued the hacking story at News International as remorselessly as the Guardian campaign did.”
However, as was reported the other day, information ‘the BBC couldn’t be seen to pay for’ can be obtained indirectly, through third parties such as independent programme makers who can conveniently fall on their swords when outed.

Then comes the familiar old chestnut:

Patten also used his speech to take a side-swipe at politicians who criticise the BBC over alleged breaches of its impartiality. “We have been attacked from both the left and the right,” he said, pointing out that the frequency with which the broadcaster is accused of political bias justifies its choice to not engage in some vital journalism.”

If only the BBC really did choose not to just engage in some vital journalism, and engaged, instead in all vital journalism, not just the kind that fits in with their bias.

Nick Cohen has: “Over at the Leveson inquiry a smug Lord Patten – there is no other kind — said the BBC could not possibly be biased because left wingers attack it on some occasions and right wingers attack it on others.

By continually using this excuse they’re comparing apples with pears to try and justify the wrong-headed, deeply flawed, smug, superficial conclusion that they invariably bandy about in order to give short shrift to all their critics.
Giving Cohen the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume it’s just ‘for the sake of argument’ that Cohen is also giving Patten the benefit of the doubt, by continuing oddly, thus:

“The BBC holds the ring, he implied. Uncontaminated by the ideologies of extremists, and possessing indeed no bias or ideology of its own, it speaks for moderation and reason.”

‘Taking the centre ground’, Cohen continues, ‘offers no protection against deranged ideas’ , citing the current vindication of former critics of the euro, once perceived as “crazies”, whereas in the light of the crisis in the eurozone, ‘advocates of moderation and reason’ (in this case the BBC) are revealed as the dangerous utopians.
Personally I can’t see the BBC or Lord Patten as centrists or moderate purveyors of conventional wisdom, but I know what Cohen is getting at. There are, however some perceptive comments below the line.
I would like to know why no-one on the BBC seems to question the government on their apparent complacency over the rise of Islamist parties in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Is that part of the constraints imposed by the impartiality obligation? Or is is part of the constraints imposed by their politically correct, pro Islam, left-leaning consensus, which runs right through the organisation from top to bottom like a stick of rock?

As the BBC’s output is so directly intrusive, is it any wonder that the left is the new centre, and the BBC can claim to be moderate and reasonable?

Bad Start to the Week

It seems that the BBC will be ‘Starting the Week’ tomorrow morning with a particularly objectionable duo on the guest list. Not only Peter Kosminsky of ‘The Promise’ notoriety, but also a singer / songwriter unknown to most people outside the Guardian/BBC clique called Sarah Gillespie (Who?)
I’ll leave it to Harry’s Place to expand on why her inclusion on Start the Week to discuss ‘the arts and politics’ is both puzzling and worrying.

For anyone who doesn’t want to click on the link, here’s what Harry’s Place tells us about Ms. Gillespie.

  • She is a supporter and musical associate of Gilad Atzmon, the Jewish-Israeli saxophonist who has taken self-loathing to new heights. His Israel-bashing writings are so extreme that even some of the most notorious anti-Israel activists have dissociated themselves from him.
  • She has expressed solidarity with holocaust denier Paul Eisen,
  • and has accused Mark Thompson of bias towards Israel.

The article ends by asking ‘what is the BBC’s reasoning?’

If Mark Thompson’s reasoning has something to do with “confronting people with the other”, I should think we’ve had just about enough anti-Israel and antisemitic flavoured programming already. It’s high time we had a glimpse of some real “other”, but I won’t be holding my breath.

I Didn’t Wanna Do It

You made me write this
I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to do it
You made me do this
and all the time you knew it
I guess you always knew it.

I know. I’m no Judy Garland. But I really wish I didn’t have to bother addressing the ridiculously biased reporting of yet another publicity stunt by Palestinian activists.
‘Freedom Riders’
Look at that photo! What do they look like? Not Rosa Parks, that’s for sure.
The BBC ‘s report ends thus: “There are around 500,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlements are illegal under international law although Israel disputes this.”
Every BBC article has one of these. Israel disputes this because it’s not true. The allegation of illegality is ‘without foundation’. But we’ve become accustomed to seeing it. Should anyone fail to reach the intended conclusion after wading through the article, it’s hammered home at the end.

I was impressed by a speech that was delivered at the conference “The Perils of Global Intolerance: The UN and Durban lll” by Shelby Steele. It’s called ‘The Narrative of Perpetual Palestinian Victimhood’
He does compare the victimhood status of the Palestinians with that of the civil rights movement, but concludes that perpetual victimhood and an obsession with the blame game merely displaces facing a harsh reality, namely acknowledging and coming to terms with ones own shortcomings.

“you are humiliated and you say,”Well you know the real truth is I am not free. Racism still exists. Zionism is my problem. The State of Israel is my problem. That is why I am so far behind and that is why I cannot get ahead.”

His main point concerns what he calls ‘poetic truths’. That is, the Palestinian narrative that has caught the imagination of the media and the ‘liberal left’. No amount of facts can dislodge poetic truths. Once poetic truths have taken hold, real truths count for nothing.

“Poetic truths like that are marvelous because no facts and no reason can ever penetrate. Supporters of Israel are up against a poetic truth. We keep hitting it with all the facts. We keep hitting it with obvious logic and reason. And we are so obvious and conspicuously right that we assume it is going to have an impact and it never does.”

The tone and content of the BBC report is a typical example of the romanticised narrative that is the basis of the BBC’s poetic truth. For the facts, read the JPost report. From the Israeli perspective, certainly. But all the better for that.
So 50 reporters and photographers were there, chasing the poetic truth. The BBC must know that flocks of cameramen regularly hang around Palestinian stone throwers and activists hoping to catch some poetry in motion. If there’s no action they’ve even been known to set some up. But the BBC doesn’t quite tell us that. “The West Bank Freedom Riders punched above their weight, drawing a lot of publicity for what was a relatively small event,” says Jon Donnison, “and I’m helping by spreading the word,” he implied, though no doubt he disputes this.

“Palestinians from the West Bank are not allowed to cross into Jerusalem without Israeli permission.” says the BBC, simplifying the truth so that the restrictions appear discriminatory and unreasonable, adding:
“Israel says such restrictions are for security reasons”
The ‘Freedom Riders’ demand unrestricted freedom of movement. They can surely have it when Israelis have the freedom from fear of being blown up on a bus.
The BBC quotes the freedom activists, so why not also include some Israeli quotes, for balance? I suppose certain people would consider that too “pro Israel”.


“It is Israelis who have issues with transportation because of fear of terror attacks,” an Israeli passenger said. “These are buses that are protected against stones and bullets in case of Palestinian violence.”
“It’s not racism, it is security,” she said.
“When I can walk freely in Ramallah with my children, they can ride on my bus.”

“Another passenger, Haggai Segal, who wore a skullcap, said he had asked the Palestinian activists, “‘Can I go on a bus in Ramallah as a Jew?’ They answered: ‘I could not.’” He shook his head at the comparison to the civil rights movement.“This is not a Martin Luther King bus”.

What’s wrong with mentioning these points? I know my words will have no impact on your poetic truth BBC, but if YOU, purporting to be an impartial news organ, make a start by allowing the real truth to reach the public, it might filter through. But in the meantime I have to keep doing what you’re making me do.

You make me angry sometimes, you make me sad
But there are times, Beeb, you make me feel so bad.
You made me sigh for, I didn’t want to tell you
I didn’t want to tell you
I need some news that’s true, yes I do, deed I do, you know I do

Give me, give me, give me what I cry for
You know you ought to tell the public what you lie for
You know you made me loathe you.


Moving Tale

Our friend Yolande Knell addresses the Bedouin question. I think it is fair to say that she sees it solely from the Bedouin perspective. So much so that her article comes across as another bit of pure Israel-bashing.
The fundamental issue concerns the human rights of a people who wish to hang on to their traditional way of life, when it clearly conflicts with the interests of certain other people who wish to abide by the law-and-order to which they’ve become accustomed.
In an ideal world, live and let live is a fine principle. But the reality is less than ideal. Compromises must eventually be reached and accepted all round.

Yolande Knell’s piece suggests Israel has pushed the noble Bedouin community from pillar to post, deliberately depriving them of their traditional way of life, forcibly relocating them to a static enclosure situated beside a rubbish dump. There are complex facts surrounding the legality of Bedouin rights to land, but Knell dismisses these in a cursory way and skews them till they seem discriminatory and racist:

“They mostly live in areas that Israel declared as state land or on private land leased from Palestinians. Some have deeds showing they bought territory when Jordan was in control of the area between 1948 and 1967.
Many of the nomadic communities settled there after leaving their ancestral land in the Negev desert. The Bedouin that remained became Israeli citizens but still have a tense relationship with the state.”

When Jordan was in control” she says. Or would it be more accurate to say: “when Jordan invaded and occupied it in 1948 and annexed it in 1950”

Knell uses emotive language, sub-headings and pictures throughout.
It’s ‘Dalé jâ vu Farm’ all over again; and as with gypsy and traveller sites that perplex our own communities, these disputes are highly political.
I don’t claim particular expertise on this problem, but from what I’ve read it seems that many people feel that the Bedouin have indeed been treated harshly by successive Israeli governments. Equally their uncooperative behaviour has made things more difficult for everybody including themselves. The anomalies in their demands parallel our own Gypsies’ and travellers’ contradictory demands for the right to proper housing while insisting that they need to travel. Many people ask why should the nomadic gypsy lifestyle be romanticised to such an extent that it trumps the rights of the rest of society? Similarly, the question of enforcing the law in respect of illegal building. Consider the outcry if a traveller’s illegally erected shack is demolished, and its occupants evicted, in other words if it’s treated in exactly the same way as if it had it been constructed by a member of the settled community without proper planning permission, a scenario in which enforcement of the law goes without saying.

There are generally two sides to such tales of woe, and to understand the situation you’d need to know much more than you could learn from Yolande Knell’s one-sided polemic. Actually I suspect that anyone reading it wouldn’t realise that there is an alternative perspective.
One aspect she ignores is:

“The Israeli government has made numerous attempts over the years to solve the disputes with the 40% of the Negev Bedouin population which does not currently live in one of the seven purpose-built towns. Additional new towns are planned, with offers of free land, a waiver on infrastructure development costs and financial relocation packages for those moving there from illegally constructed encampments. No other sector of Israeli society is eligible for these benefits.”

So agree with it or not, if balance of any sort is to be achieved the BBC should be telling us that the Israeli government is at least trying hard to solve this difficult conundrum in as much detail as they tell us about the woes of the Bedouin. I don’t see what is to be gained from incessantly pushing a pro Palestinian agenda by publishing endless Israel-bashing articles and emotive images.

Futile Exercise

I just did something unusual. I listened to Feedback on BBC radio 4, whereupon I heard a strange item.
Roger Bolton summoned Alison Hastings,chair of the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee, to talk about the BBC Trust’s upcoming review of the impartiality of the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring.
Oh Roger! You challenged Alison about the wisdom of appointing Edward Mortimer to conduct it, in view of his close friendship with Chris Patten! “No problem” said Alison, “We commissioned Mortimer to do the review without Patten’s knowledge.”
Not verbatim, but I think that was the gist. So that’s okay. Then Roger sharpened his probe to a steely edge, and with a rapier-like lunge inquired if Alison knew what impartiality actually was. Oooh! You cheeky monkey! As it happens, she gave a pretty good explanation of impartiality, to the effect that it all depends on who says what about what to whom, and when.
In the Observer Peter Preston said that the BBC could save a lot of money by not bothering with this – in his opinion, pointless review. I mean, will they have to spend squillions in legal fees to protect the outcome’s secrecy?
“You might as well commission a Jeremy Bowen report on Mortimer’s impartiality.” he adds, drolly.

I agree. I mean, you might as well get Kevin Connolly to examine the fashion trends of the Arab Spring. Oh.

Anyway, I do hope they enjoy themselves re-living all that breathless footage of Tahrir Square in which they managed to overlook all the signs of the rebels’ antisemitism right up until the storming of Cairo’s Israeli Embassy, an occurrence that no-one including the BBC could honourably ignore.
Edward Mortimer is a fan of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and a rabid antisemite himself, so I can guess what sort of impartiality he’ll be looking out for. “We got it about right,” he might say, ”file it in the cupboard, next to the Balen report.”

Peas in a Pod

Isn’t Kevin Connolly like Mark Mardell? They’ve both got alliterative sounding names, their voices sound similarly sneery, and they even wear the same shirt.
Kevin has been busy in the West Bank recording the sounds of a weekly Friday demonstration by Palestinians against Israeli occupation.

“Israeli soldiers disperse the tiny crowd with a couple of volleys of stinging, choking tear gas!”

The scoundrels!

“It all feels a little jaded. A little like the international game of getting the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.”

He then hurries off to interview Mustafa Barghouti, the *moderate* Palestinian politician who is so moderate and non violent that he calls for Fatah and Hamas to be *unified*. He now wants the international community to be pro-active, just as they were in Libya, that’s how moderate and non violent he is.
Next Kevin scampers off to interview an Israeli settler, that symbol of everything we love to hate about Israel. The settler, complete with American accent and a notion that ‘the Jew’ has a special affinity with ‘the dog’, (H/T Biodegradable) and no doubt God himself, represents what Connolly undoubtedly sees as Israel’s misguided belief that they have a God-given right to *Palestinian land*. The settler duly hates Netanyahu.

Next, for balance, he trots off to find an Israeli author who hates the settler movement and Netanyahu.

What is the point, I wonder? We already know all this. We’ve already been told that settlers are extremists and loonies. We’ve already been told that settlements are the obstacle to peace. We’ve already been told that, if we’re being honest, none of us can stand Netanyahu. We already know that Israel is a major obstacle to world peace. We already know that Islam is the religion of peace.
We’ve been educated to accept all these things as a given.
But why?
Why don’t more people ask why Palestinian Arabs are entitled to demand the return of territory they lost in wars they themselves instigated? Why doesn’t anyone challenge the Palestinian leadership’s outrage at Israel’s legitimate and necessary precautions against terrorism whilst openly lauding terrorists and declaring that they’ll never accept a Jewish state? Why doesn’t anyone on the BBC acknowledge that charges against Israel of ethnic cleansing and apartheid are hypocritical and false when Abbas openly states that any Palestinian state will be Judenrein? Why doesn’t the BBC devote any air time whatsoever to enlightening us as to the legality or otherwise of Israel’s position regarding settlements? Why does Connolly meekly accept Barghouti’s outrageously hypocritical description of the Israeli government being full of settlers and extremists without asking him what the ‘Palestinian government’ is full of?

As Connolly very well knows, his report says nothing new. In his own words, it all feels a little jaded. And a lot biased.