“The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion.”

Biased BBC contributor Alan notes that the BBC is adopting its usual casual ‘Israel is the Devil’ stance in their report on Gunther Grass and his poem.

The BBC attitude adds immeasurably to the febrile anti-Israel/Semitic atmosphere that is being whipped up. The BBC continually says it does not have the time or space to put the Israel/Palestine conflict into any context for each report but it does find time to add on the casualty figures for two years after the Gaza conflict and in the recent report on Hamas executions manages to slot in an end piece explaining away Hamas’ actions by blaming Israel.

What the BBC does not tell us is that the Gaza assault came as a result of 10 years of missiles raining down on Israel….what they don’t tell you is that Israel suffered over 1000 dead in a variety of attacks against them in those years. So when the BBC says Israel only suffered 13 casualties in Gaza a real view of events would put the reason for the assault into perspective….not so much disproportionate but Just Retribution.

Their report is curiously uncritical and accepting in tone of the poem which says Israel is The threat to world peace, her nuclear weapons are somehow more unacceptable than the US’s or Britain’s or France’s or North Korea’s or Russia’s.

Curious that Grass picks on Israel and not Pakistan. Another nuclear power…and highly unstable…not long ago people were expecting a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

Is it not Iran, amongst many others in the region, that threaten Israel’s existence? Yes.

Strange Israel is endangering world peace by defending itself. Though how like the modern Western elite’s relative world view….just lie back and accept any indignity for a peaceful existence….and blame ‘The Jew’ for wars.

Churchill sums it all up, the moral equivalence, the cowardly sacrificing another country, a ‘people’ in effect, for ostensibly the delusion of peace but in reality Grass and his defenders don’t like Israel, its very existence jars with them…..and they would look the other way if it were ‘somehow’ to disappear. He says he likes Israel and wants it to exist, how kind, but his actions say otherwise……have a look at Der Spiegel and what is being said….’At the moment, Iran is feeling the pressure of sanctions. But the time has finally come to put some pressure on Israel, as well. Mind you, whoever says such a thing is not trying “to relativize the guilt of the Germans by making the Jews into perpetrators,” as Mathias Döpfner says.'(http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,826180,00.html)…and this is an article which wilfully ignores evidence from all sources including the IAEA that Iran looks to be developing a nuclear weapon capability.

What really gives away Grass’s politics is his attack on the “hypocrisy of the West” …whilst at the same time claiming to be a realist…if he was a realist he would understand ‘real politik’…and why most of the products in his house he imported from Communist China.

Back to Churchill….
“The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion.”

“All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness. We have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been derailed, and these terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies, ‘Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting’.”
– Lamenting the abandonment of Czechosolovakia by Britain at Munich in 1938

This is the BBC report….although it gives views condemning Grass there is a lack of analysis of his comments…..something critical for a full and truthful view of what Grass claims. Especially as we are told that the Israel/Palestine conflict, if it can be solved, will bring world peace. Who am I to doubt…but you would think the BBC would therefore put more effort into its reports… in the interest of World Peace that is.

‘Grass, a Nobel laureate, recently criticised Israel in a poem.
In it, Grass condemned German arms sales to Israel, and said the Jewish state must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran. Grass attacks Israel’s nuclear programme.
“Why do I say only now… that the nuclear power Israel endangers an already fragile world peace?

But he has been defended by some sections of Israeli liberal opinion.

Writing in the Haaretz newspaper, columnist Gideon Levy criticised the ban on Grass.
“A situation in which any German who dares criticise Israel is instantly accused of anti-Semitism is intolerable”, he said, “after we denounce the exaggeration, after we shake off the unjustified part of the charge, we must listen.” ‘

Note the final words….’we must listen’…to Grass.

BBC having the final word there?

What must be said

Why have I been silent, silent for so long?,
Our generals have gamed it out,
Confident the west will survive.
We people have not even been considered.

What is this right to “preventive war”?
A war that could erase the Iranian people.
Dominated by it’s neighbor, pulsing with righteousness
Smug in the fact that it is they, not Iran,
Who have the Bomb.

Why have I so far avoided to identify Israel by it’s name?,
Israel and it’s ever increasing nuclear arsenal,
Beyond reproach, Uncontrolled, uninspected.

We all know these things
Yet we all remain silent, fearful of being labeled:

Considering Germany’s past these labels stick
So we call is “business”, “reparation” take your pick,
As we deliver yet another submarine.
As we provide to Israel the means to deliver annihilation.
I say what must be said.

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because I’m German, of course.
I’m tainted by a stain I cannot wash out
I’m silent because I want so badly to make it right
To put my sins in the past and leave them silently there.

Why did I wait to say it until now?
And write these words with the last of my ink?
Declaring that Israel threatens world peace?
Because it is true and it must be said,
Tomorrow will be too late.

We Germans now carry a new burden of sin on our shoulders
Through the weapons we have sold
We are helping to carry out this foreseeable tragedy
No excuse will remove our stain of complicity.

It must be said. I won’t be silent
I’ve had enough of the hypocrisy;
Please shed the silence with me,
The consequences are all too predictable.
It’s time to demand free and permanent control
of BOTH Israel’s nuclear arsenal
AND Iran’s nuclear facilities
enforced with international supervision.

It’s the only way, in a land convulsed with insanity,
Israelis, Palestinians, everybody, will survive.
And we too, will survive.

Iran Matters

Over the last few days Nick Robinson and Mark Mardell have been speculating about likely topics of conversation between David Cameron and President Obama. They predict that having settled Afghanistan, the new buddies will turn their attention to Iran. Or rather Israel, because the question they will be tussling with is not “How to make sure Iran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons” but “how to stop Israel taking unilateral military action”.

Because the BBC frames Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons as “Israel’s problem,” the prospect of pre-emptive military action against Iran’s nuclear activities is contemplated with pre-emptive righteous indignation.Israel is blamed in advance for the anticipated consequences such as oil price rises, perhaps Western armed forces being ‘sucked in’, and the probability that it would hand the Islamists in our midst an additional excuse for home-grown grievance-based terrorism. People are preoccupied with the understandable concern that they may suffer because of “Israel’s war”, but their trepidation completely overshadows Iran’s culpability.

Arguments against military intervention are boosted by speculation that Iran hasn’t got nuclear weapons yet, and is a long way off acquiring them. People cite Iran’s repeated reassurances that their nuclear activities are one hundred percent peaceful; yet still they retain, as back-up, the theory that even if the Iranians have lied, perish the thought, diplomacy and sanctions will rescue us.
This argument comes with yet another back-up. If Iran has been fooling us all along, and should sanctions and diplomacy fail, we can always fall back on Mutually Assured Destruction – the all-time, ultimate deterrent. However, in a country ruled by people who are awaiting the End Times with joyous anticipation, an event that entails the coming of the Shia Mahdi accompanied by the apocalypse, the Mutual part of this deal doesn’t seem quite so relevant. Which just leaves the Assured Destruction.
It could be that if we wait too long, we’re in permanent thrall to nuclear-armed Ayatollahs. However, meantime we could bombard Iran with a concerted programme of overt sabre-rattling.

“The dirty secret about President Obama’s generally successful effort to put more pressure on Iran through sanctions and diplomatic methods is that in the last resort its effectiveness depends on exactly the military threats that he would like to downplay. “

It hasn’t occurred to the BBC’s political analysts that if we stick together and threaten, we could give Ahmadinejad the serious willies, which, End Times notwithstanding, could be more effective than trying to ingratiate ourselves with him by pacifying, tolerating and being patient. It’s known as Brinkmanship.

On Tues 6th March 5:05 am the BBC World service featured the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. I couldn’t blog it at the time because my internet connection was down. Their interpretation appeared to be that Netanyahu is making a big fuss about nothing. Though President Obama’s and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s clearly expressed preference for diplomacy was mentioned briefly, it was all but cancelled out by extremely misleading hinted-at images of Netanyahu straining at the leash like a mad dog, with peace-loving Obama wrestling with all his might to rein him in and save us all from Armageddon.
Mark Mardell and Nick Robinson are not alone in believing Obama is insincere in his friendships, both with the UK and, even more so, with Israel. The BBC portrays Netanyahu as a warmonger simply because they dislike him. They undoubtedly remember Sarkozy saying he can’t stand Netanyahu, and calling him a liar, with Obama’s apparent approval. Why, they may argue, pretend otherwise?
The Guardian.

The president sees the Israeli PM “as a liar who uses subversive tactics, shamelessly meddles in American politics and is encouraging the Republican campaign to topple him,” [Haaretz] while “Netanyahu sees Obama as a spineless leftwinger whose fantasies about world peace are threatening Israel with the prospect of a second Holocaust.” So, not exactly chums, then.”

The BBC attributes President Obama’s abrupt recollection of the unshakeable solidarity between the US and Israel to the upcoming US election. Why else, they imply, would the esteemed Obama bother with a hard-line leader of such a despicable country as Israel?
Obama undoubtedly does hope to curry favour with the Jewish voter, but since the majority of US Jews traditionally vote Democrat come what may, all this does seem an unnecessarily elaborate strategy.

However, whether or not the BBC should really be putting such ideas into people’s heads, it certainly isn’t their job to inspire people like Peter Oborne and Jenny Tonge to scatter sinister warnings about the Jewish Lobby, or to boost the credibility of people who talk about tentacles and tails that wag dogs.

If military action does eventually prove unavoidable, can a pre-emptive surgical strike with a clearly defined target be compared unfavourably with an open-ended military adventure like the one in which we are currently embroiled? The one popularly believed to have an undefined, ever changing, unachievable goal, the success of which is impossible to evaluate and the end of which is likely to be never, ever?

The possibility of a surgical strike specifically targeting Iran’s nuclear activities is not the same as an all-out attack against Iran. Who knows if such a thing is, or ever was, feasible, but the window of opportunity, if there is one, is closing – or closed. What would the situation in Syria be now, if such a thing hadn’t (allegedly) occurred in 2007?
And in any case, the consequences of our existing interference in ‘Muslim Lands’ are already with us. Maybe it would be better to go for it now, before it’s too late; whichever party does the deed, Israel knows it would face retaliation from Hezbollah, and despite what Jon Donnison says, Hamas.

This is not an argument for war. It’s simply about the BBC’s inappropriate advocacy of appeasing the Ayatollahs on top of their willful misrepresentation of the Arab Spring as a benign and enlightened success story. And now, their delusional attitude to the monumental differences between the Western and the Islamic world, framed as though it’s a straightforward case of ‘war or peace, ‘either or’. Meaning either (Israel’s) war or (the world’s) peace.

BBC World service. ‘The World Today with Lawrence Pollard and Roger Hearing’ reported the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. They called on the services of Professor Avi Shlaim of Oxford University. Prof Shlaim is an Israeli domiciled in the UK, and a harsh critic of Israel, so it’s no surprise that he would be consulted to reinforce the BBC’s stance. He did not disappoint.

He cited a warning to Israel not to take pre-emptive military action, made recently by “ex Mossad hard-liner” Meir Dagan. According to Haaretz Mr Dagan did indeed issue such a warning, but Ynet adds:
”Ultimately, the former head of Mossad said the Iranians cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, but an attack on their nuclear sites now would be a mistake.” So Dagan wasn’t playing down the threat from Iran, but, for better or worse, handing the hot potato of what to do about a nuclear-armed Iran, back to President Obama.
In the programme, after short sound-bites from Netanyahu and Obama, came Professor Shlaim’s analysis.
He kept referring to the Israeli government as ‘reckless’, without acknowledging that, even if it’s really all bluff and bluster, sabre-rattling is a necessary piece of the jigsaw.

I transcribed this programme, because it ticked all the above mentioned boxes.
Intro: “We don’t know exactly what went on at the meeting between president Obama and the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington but we can be pretty sure Mr. Netanyahu strongly argued the case for urgent military action against Iran to stop it developing nuclear weapons, and that president Obama pressed the case for seeing what sanctions and diplomatic pressure could do before sending in the bombers. In a speech before the American Israel and Public Affairs Committee AIPAC Mr. Netanyahu said time was running out.”
B. Netanyahu:
“My friends, Israel has waited, patiently waited for the international community to resolve this issue we’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
Well, earlier Mr. Obama said that both he and Mr. Netanyahu preferred a diplomatic to a military solution.
B. Obama:
“I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy prevention Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and as I indicated in my speech when I say all options are on the table I mean it. Having said that I know that both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically. We understand the costs of any military action.”
But what complicates this is that in a presidential election year Mr. Obama has to be very careful of alienating the large number of pro Israeli US voters by appearing not to be safeguarding the security of the Jewish State. Avi Shlaim is the professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, here in Britain. he doesn’t think President Obama does have to make concessions to the Israelis.
A. Shlaim:
“I question whether Israel has the ability to take unilateral action against Iran. The whole of the Israeli strategy for a long time has been geared to getting America to take military action against Iran. That hasn’t succeeded, so now there are rumours and speculation that Israel will be forced to take unilateral action.”
“You think that’s bluff?”
A. Shlaim:
“I do think that it is bluff and more than that I think it is reckless. It’s not I who thinks that Mr Netanyahu and his defence Ehud Barak are reckless. It is the former director of the Mossad Meir Dagan who is a hard-line and former general who said that Israel cannot carry out unilateral military action against Iran, and that Israel shouldn’t be talking about unilateral action, and he called the prime minister and the defence minister of the state of Israel ‘reckless’. So I do believe he is right on this issue.”

“Many in Israel would say it was reckless to ignore what they see as a very real threat from Iran, after all the Iranian president has threatened to wipe Israel from the map, and I suppose, with nuclear weapons they would have the capacity to do that. Isn’t it reckless not to take any action?”

A. Shlaim:
“No, because Netanyahu keeps repeating that a nuclear-armed Iran will be an existential threat to the State of Israel. Well first of all, it would not be an existential threat, because Israel already has nuclear weapons, and therefore Israel’s nuclear weapons would deter Iran from launching an attack. So the worst case scenario would be a nuclear-armed Iran, and there would be a balance of terror, and the Iranians would be committing an act of suicide if they attacked Israel, and They are Not Irrational. That’s the worst case scenario. It wouldn’t be a good scenario, because if Iran had nuclear weapons, other countries, and first and foremost Saudi Arabia would want to have nuclear weapons, so it’s not a good scenario, but we are a very very long way from that worst case scenario because Iran hasn’t got nuclear weapons, it has a peaceful nuclear programme, and the best estimate from the American experts is that Iran has not made the decision yet to acquire a nuclear capability. That Iran’s programme is still peaceful and the decision to weaponize has not been taken yet so at the moment what we have is very serious severe western sanctions against Iran, so there is still the possibility of a diplomatic solution and this is what Obama should be concentrating on rather than threats of military action.”
“Professor Avi Shlaim.”


Today in Parliament with Mark D’Arcy

M D’A:
“good evening. This is Mark D’Arcy at Westminster, where a peer who quit the Lib dems renews her attack on Israel.”

J T:
“I am not antisemitic. But I am anti-injustice.”M D’A:
“Plus border tensions between parliament and the civil service as the Sir Humphreys insist they answer to ministers, not to MPs[…] but first tonight, former Liberal democrat peer Lady Tonge who quit the party whip in the Lords after being told to withdraw criticisms of Israel has spoke out during a debate on the Middle East. Lady Tonge attracted furious criticism when she said Israel would not be there forever, defended her comments.”

J T :
“I am not antisemitic. But I am anti-injustice. And I think the treatment of the Palestinians over the last six decades by Israel and the international community has been a gross injustice which has eaten away at peace in the Middle East and has served to fuel extreme Islamism and terrorism.”

M D’A:
“She said she accepted that Israel had a right to exist – within its 1967 borders, but she gave a warning that its actions were becoming more and more dangerous, and she claimed it was attempting to make life for Palestinians impossible.”

J T :
“Our government deals with these violations of international law by urging restraint, and expressing concern. They’re worthy sentiments my lords, but they do not stop the relentless ethnic cleansing, land grab, and what many people would describe as terrorism, by the Israeli Airforce with their targeted assassinations. And because of the pro Israel lobby bullying tactics against anyone who speaks the truth, Israel is allowed to act with impunity.”

M D’A:
“Later, winding up the debate the foreign office minister Lord Howell said that Israel suffered regular missile attacks from Palestinian enclaves, and retaliated with force. Lady Tonge intervened.”

J T:
“The raining of missiles on Southern Israel, from Gaza, always follows a targeted assassination by the Israel Airforce.”

M D’A:
“Lord Howell retorted by quoting the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu”

L H:
“If there’s quietness on one side there’ll be quietness on the other side. There were targeted assassinations, there are constant threats of the elimination of Israel, there are these repostes by rockets.”

M D’A:
“At that Lady Tonge threw up her hands in exasperation. The debate ranged across the hotspots of the Middle East …….”

It did indeed, and nobody joined the dots.

I’m not blaming the BBC for reporting this ill-informed rant by Tonge, I’m not even bothering to tell Mark D’Arcy that he oversimplified and thus misrepresented the real cause of Ms Tonge’s dismissal from the Lib Dems. I’m not even going to mention the blurb that describes the audience at the event during which she sat next to and applauded Ken O’Keefe, as “a university audience.”

What I am doing is blaming the BBC for creating an atmosphere in Britain where a selective, fallacious and mischievous speech of this nature can pass virtually unchallenged in the House of Lords.

Tally of Death

Mustafa Barghouti was given a nice gentle time by Evan this a.m. Not that I prefer the Humphrys method of interrogation, which hardly gives the interviewee a chance to state his case.
But Mustafa was given free rein to spout a series of unadulterated porky pies.

“Is the ceasefire in effect?” asked Evan, nicely.
“Israel provoked the cycle of violence by attacking Gaza viciously. [it’s all Israel’s fault] ” replied Mustafa at length.
“At the moment you are respecting the ceasefire, there are no rockets being fired into Israel?” repeated Evan, to clarify that there are no rockets being fired into Israel.

“Gaza never fired rockets into Israel except as a response to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. [It’s Israel’s fault, oppression, segregation, apartheid, occupation, settlement activity]” replied Mustafa at great length.

“How much public support is there in Gaza for these rocket attacks? ventured Evan, who might think that rocket attacks are unpopular with the peace-loving Palestinians.
All Palestinians are for non violent resistance. The rockets were self defence.” Says Mustafa, with a staggering disregard for the truth.Israeli spokesperson Avital Leibovich is talking from a tunnel. A BBC sound engineer is having a laugh.
“Are you respecting now the terms of the apparent ceasefire, that there will be no more assassinations in Gaza?” asks Evan, sounding slightly less nice.
“I believe your previous speaker did not give the complete facts, he said there were no rockets but as a reaction to Israeli attack. But last year 627 rockets were fired at Israel, the rocket launching has never really stopped. I can tell you that an hour and a half ago another rocket was fired into Israel.” Avital replied echoingly.
But Evan is more interested in how many Israelis have been killed.
“How many Israelis have been killed in the last few days? ” he asks, almost certainly aware, being a journalist who supposedly follows the news, that precisely none have.
What, none? That’s outrageous!

Do you recognise how many Palestinians have been killed? You do recognise that Palestinians are dying on a much larger scale than Israelis?” He asks, leaving the audience in no doubt as to what he’s getting at. It’s disproportionate, which is just. not. fair.

Oh Evan, don’t you remember, in Operation Cast Lead at least 1,200/1,400/1,500 innocent Palestinians were killed, while only 13 Israeli solders ‘died.’ According to the BBC, the more martyrs there are, the more righteous the cause, no matter how the situation came about. So until the requisite number of Israelis are murdered, Israel can never redeem itself.


The Guardian/BBC symbiosis has produced a cuddly pledge from Hamas to the effect that they would not help Iran militarily in any conflict with Israel.
The BBC’s Jon Donnison and Harriet Sherwood of the Graun have been speaking to Mahmoud Zahhar, a senior leader of Hamas. He has told them that Hamas are not, to coin a phrase, “ideologically wedded” to Iran.
But according to FARS news agency and Haaretz, Mahmoud al-Zahar has “strongly rejected the BBC claim as unfounded and a lie.”

“………any Israel or US attack on Iranwill be reciprocated by Hamas’s crushing response to the Zionists.”

Someone’s gone wrong somewhere.
H/T Bio and Elder of Ziyon


Anyone catch this John Humphyrs interview with William Hague on Today this morning. What fascinated me was how a discussion regarding what could be done to help those people suffering under the Assad regime in Syria suddenly was switched by Humphyrs into trying to get Hague to say that the UK would never support military action against…Iran. And in particular, should Israel move against the Mad Mullahs, would the UK ensure no support whatsoever would be afforded. To be fair to Hague he did repeat the line that NO options are off the table but it’s the way in which the BBC seems to have linked Assad’s butchery of his own people to that of Israel seeking to prevent the annihilation of their people at the hands of the thugs in Tehran. As I recall there was a similar attempted “gotcha” last week using the same trick and it makes me think the BBC worry more about Israel defending itself than Iran attacking it. I’ve had an exchange in the past day with New Statesman Editor Medhi Hasan and he articulates a defence  for Iran that I believe will become the narrative for the BBC as conditions deteriorate.

Hungry Baker!

The BBC’s coverage of Khadar Adnan the Palestinian hunger striker closely resembles the extract from Al Jazeera highlighted by Elder of Ziyon, only the BBC’s version has been dumbed down, so that the public can understand it more easily. You know, large type and tiny paragraphs for those of us with poor comprehension.
To help the public absorb the heroic nature of this martyr more fully and stop us being confused by the unpalatable bits, they’ve left them out altogether.

It’s terrible what they’re doing to this principled man, is it not? Catherine Ashton will sort it out, I’m sure.

Non Story

The following probably comes into the category of ‘what the BBC won’t report’.
Admittedly, few outside the Israeli press have covered the story, but it merits a little mention by the BBC because ill-conceived references to the incident in question still rear their heads in the course of the day-to-day Israel-bashing to which we have become accustomed.

The news that the BBC ignores is that the French supreme court has acquitted an Israeli doctor named Yehuda David who had previously been convicted of slander. He had been sued in a French court by the father of the Palestinian ‘martyr’ Mohammad Al-Durah.The infamous Al-Durah incident in 2000 was very likely a Pallywood production, but this has not been conclusively proven. I have written about it in the past, and the intriguing background is extensively covered here, here and here.
Honest Reporting links to an article by a writer who seems pretty convinced that the Al-Durah case is closed, the evidence of Al-Durah senior’s dishonesty putting the final nail in its coffin. But on the principle that just because you lie about one thing it doesn’t automatically mean you lie about everything, I think it’s safe to just say the jury’s still out.

Doctor Yehuda David revealed that Al Durah senior’s scars – allegedly from wounds inflicted in the incident in which little Mohammad was allegedly killed by the IDF – were in fact from wounds inflicted upon him at a much earlier date by Hamas for the alleged crime of collaborating with the Israelis. The doctor was in a position to reveal this, because, dear reader, he recognised the scars. He was the very surgeon who had operated on Mr. Al-D. several years before the notorious Mohammad Al-Durah incident occurred.

Dr. Yahuda David gave an interview to this effect, which was published in a magazine. Someone stumped up for Mr. Al-D’s legal fees, enabling him to sue the doctor for slander, somehow managing to win damages to the tune of 30,000 euros. But the doctor fought back, and the court overturned the conviction last week; deep joy all round in Israel.

The case looks as though it is set to be one of those never-ending sagas, because it seems Mr Al-D and his backers intend to appeal.

For the information of anyone following the Al-Durah story, it seems that the legal procedure is still ongoing in respect of Philippe Karsenty’s conviction / overturned conviction for slander against Charles Enderlin of France 2.

The question of the Al-Durah footage itself has never been resolved, but there is still the mysterious extra bit of film which Mr Enderlin wouldn’t release to the French court, part of which (I think) can be seen via The Augean Stables. Many people feel this provides convincing evidence that the whole thing was a set-up.
But, with the help of massive press coverage, it sparked a deadly intifada, and that is why the BBC should at least pay their respects and acknowledge the tale.

Balen 2

Who’d have thought that journalists who wish to investigate, uncover and expose scandals and injustices without compromising their freedom or exposing their pet whistleblowers, would be subjected to the whims and fancies of the Supreme court in the course of its earnest deliberations over such things as the meaning of the word ‘predominantly’.

Who knows what was on the minds of Lord Phillips and pals as they grappled diligently on behalf of the BBC with the tricky business of defining what is or is not in the public interest.

The Freedom Of Information Act is supposed to

“promote an important public interest in access to information about public bodies.”

But when the unstoppable Freedom of Information Act collides with the immovable Data Protection Act, there’s bound to be trouble.Thankfully, the judges know what’s good for you. For your own good the BBC and a few other bodies enjoy a special exemption
(safeguard) so that you, the public, can’t poke your snoopy noses in.The safeguards are there

“to prevent interference with the performance of the functions of the BBC in broadcasting journalism, art and literature.”

So in certain circumstances

“……………the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information”

And who decides whether disclosing information outweighs the BBC’s public accountability?

“……………the disclosure of which, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person (which in the case of the BBC is the corporation itself, acting by its governors)…”

Eureka! The BBC itself is qualified to decide!
However, the judges are aware that this doesn’t look brilliant in terms of PR. They must rationalise the notion that concealment trumps transparency, and secrecy is more ‘in the public interest’ than accountability.

“ In this case, there is a powerful public interest pulling in the opposite direction. It is that public service broadcasters, no less than the commercial media, should be free to gather, edit and publish news and comment on current affairs without the inhibition of an obligation to make public disclosure of or about their work in progress.”

Excellent excuse! But his honour is still slightly apologetic:

“ I would add that I am conscious that this interpretation of the limitation may be seen as conferring on the BBC an immunity so wide as to make the particular statutory redemptions redundant, and leave the BBC almost free of obligations under FOIA.”

It certainly pans out that way, and sweet of you to notice.

“On a broad definition, it could be argued that all of the activities of the BBC are for the purposes of journalism, art and literature, as these are broad descriptions of a substantial part of its broadcast output . . .”

Go on. Why not make the BBC exempt from the FOIA altogether and be done with it? Even the the judge is wondering this:

“However, if a very broad definition was intended, there
would be little point in including the BBC in Schedule 1, Part VI of
FOIA. The BBC could have been omitted altogether from the scope
of the Act.”

However, here comes ‘the chilling effect’.

“The BBC submitted that disclosure of the Report (and any other information held for the purposes of journalism) would have a chilling effect upon their right to freedom of expression;”

The same phrase was uttered by a journalist in respect of the Leveson Inquiry. This monstrous chilling effect, this inhibiting, this compromising, this…..cramping the BBC’s style, evidently justifies concealing the contents of the Balen report for ever and ever. Does this apply to Murdoch’s journalists too?
The BBC’s desire for secrecy almost puts their internal workings in the same category as certain trials being beyond the reach of the open court for fear of revealing secret counter-terrorism information.

The appellant (Mr. Eicke QC,) has the temerity to think accountability is a reasonable request.

“(The appellant) not only disputes that the release of the Report would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression but submits that only the need to protect journalistic sources – or perhaps, indeed, more narrowly still, the need to protect sources who might otherwise be deterred from assisting journalists – would constitute an overriding requirement of the public interest sufficient to justify this interference with the citizen’s article 10(1)right of access to information.”

Quite so. since the Balen report was originally carried out in 2004, can the contents really still be for the purposes of journalism? Balen’s recommendations, if there were any, would surely have been implemented by now, if they were deemed worthy of implementing!
Despite the fact that during the period in question there was a reshuffle of BBC management personnel at the top, certain recommendations were put into effect, one of which is said to have been the appointment of Jeremy Bowen. Perhaps the Balen report concluded that they weren’t biased enough against Israel?

If the Balen report found bias against Israel in 2004 it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s biased in 2012. By this time surely the BBC could have got away with another of those ‘the-bias-was-all-in-the-past’ mea culpas and saved the £300,000. They must have thought it was worth spending the dosh to ensure they could continue to go about their business in any way they see fit, unfettered by scrutiny and without the threat of exposure.

Meanwhile, simmering away on the back burner is the detrimental effect the media’s self-interested or partial reporting has had on society. The BBC’s anti-Israel bias has consequences. One small example; the comments below an article about Iran’s nuclear ambitions on an official BBC blog by Robin Lustig, which boasts the strap-line ‘Trying to make sense of the world’ clearly demonstrates they’ve failed. They’ve only succeeded in making nonsense of it.

“And another thing, how is it that Israel is a ‘stabilizing’ influence on the region while Iran is a ‘destabilizing’ one? One of these countries is a theocratic violent terrorist state that refuses to abide by international law, while the other is a theocratic state that hasn’t invaded another nation in a thousand years? Satire cannot do justice to this hypocrisy”

The moral equivalence given to Iran and Israel elicits neither challenge nor counter argument, and is evidently deemed acceptable by the moderators.
This assumption reared its head on Question Time, which Melanie Phillips discusses here.
The BBC charter stipulates impartiality – not that such a thing is realistically achievable, but balance could reasonably be expected ‘over time’. If this is not happening, someone should intervene. Bias by omission, by emoting, and by overt propaganda are all against the rules, but who will enforce them? It’s not usual to trust bodies to self-police – not even the police – and especially the BBC who won’t or can’t recognise their own bias or admit they get anything wrong.

These legal appeals gather more and more moss the longer they drag on, and each time they’re re-appealed the entire legal history has to be reviewed and reconsidered. The procedure has to scrutinise previous hearings, till it begins to resemble that game where each player has to recite a shopping list from memory, adding another item one by one; as the the list grows longer, the harder and more tedious the task. The judges weren’t memorising shopping of course, they were seeking loopholes and cracks in previous hearings. Looking for hooks on which to hang excuses to keep the Balen Report in the family.

They seemed genuinely worried about creating a precedent that would fetter the BBC, and conscious that the Balen report’s qualification for exemption was tenuous. Did it really come into the category of “for the purpose of journalism art or literature? They admitted they were virtually gifting the BBC complete immunity from the FOIA. They saw that determining what was in the public interest could be stretched and squeezed, describing it as ‘elastic’.
In short they dallied over whether they liked the idea of civilians knowing the content of the Balen Report or not, and having pre-decided ‘not’, excreted copious verbiage in rationalising their fancy.

It boils down to a simple reality. The BBC, or the BBC Trust can continue as before. If there is bias, so be it. Like it or lump it.
The fear that ‘internal frankness’ would be damaged if ‘the public’ had ‘the right to know’ outweighs the fear that biased reporting has a corrosive effect on ‘the public.’ External frankness, external critical review and external analysis of output can get stuffed

On the BBC they refer to Israel as “Iran’s arch enemy.” Is that upside-down description even-handed, logical or accurate? What is the likelihood of an internal review correcting that?

I think I rest my case.

Sea of Darkness

Supplying Gaza with fuel is a complex matter. Various political complications have arisen, and electricity blackouts in Gaza are imminent.
Egypt Independent has:

”The Gaza Strip’s sole electricity station has become inoperative because Egypt has begun to crack down on fuel smuggling activities through their shared border, a Palestinian energy official in Gaza said Tuesday.”

From Palestinian News Agency Ma’an:

“Meanwhile, the director of Gaza’s only power plant Walid Saad Sayil said Wednesday that the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority’s delay in payments for fuel contributed to the crisis, as well as failures by the energy authority and company in Gaza.”

Gaza Energy Authority official Ahmed Abul Amreen held a press conference during which he made various statements about the cause of this crisis, adding, apparently with no particular reason, that “he holds Israel responsible.” Jon Donnison picked that up.

Normally Israel supplies Gaza with 120 megawatts per day, some comes from Gaza’s small power plant and some is brought unofficially from Egypt using underground tunnels.
According to EOZ

Israel is providing exactly the same amount of electricity to Gaza it always has.[…] “Palestinians” instructed the Israelis not to provide the Strip with heavy-duty diesel because they could get the fuel – reportedly cheaper – from Egypt.”

Jon Donnison’s report is unclear and muddled. It is framed as though Israel’s blockade has brought about a crisis in which “The strip would soon be “swimming in a sea of darkness”.

The Egyptian and the Palestinian news agencies appear to be more realistic about the situation than Donnison, who sees everything through a haze of Israelophobia

Since writing this piece I have had more time to look at it.
I’ve been comparing Jon Donnison’s report with other reporting of the imminent power shortage in Gaza to see whether Donnison’s is significantly more slanted against Israel than the others.

From the plethora of reports on this topic I decided to confine my comparison to aunews, ABC News, Yahoo and France 24 because I thought it reasonable to assume BBC editors had read the contents, since they were the news organisations in web links provided by the BBC.

Three of these contain sections copied and pasted from each other’s material, (this is normal practice, and I think the original copy probably comes from A/P or reuters.)

For example ABC News, mnnews.com.au, and France 24 start with the paragraph beginning: “Gaza’s sole power plant has ground to a halt” Quoting Ahmad Abu al-Amrin, an official from Gaza’s energy authority. They expand thus:

“The Gaza power plant has completely stopped working because of the shortage of fuel entering the Gaza Strip, and the depletion of diesel it needs to work,” said Ahmad Abu al-Amrin, an official from Gaza’s energy authority.

He called on Egypt “to assume its historical responsibility in supporting the resistance of the Palestinian people by ensuring they had all the necessary fuel to operate the plant”.

According to the UN agency for humanitarian affairs, OCHA, (UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) the amount of fuel being transported through the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza has dropped by half over the last fortnight, reportedly due to increased restrictions on the movement of fuel by the Egyptian police.

“Only half of the amount of fuel that entered in the previous weeks has been coming into Gaza for the past two weeks,” OCHA said in its weekly report.
“Unconfirmed reports indicate that the reason for this sharp decline is an increase in fuel prices triggered by movement restrictions imposed by the Egyptian police on fuel cargoes travelling to Rafah.”

They continue with identical quotes from Ismail Haniya, calling on Cairo to
immediately intervene and meet all the electricity needs of Gaza in a permanent way” (See? even the Hamas leader isn’t blaming Israel here) All three continue with heart-rending descriptions of the suffering the shortages will cause.

Towards the end France 24 and AU News insert the obligatory:

“Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 following the capture of one of its soldiers in June of that year.
The blockade was tightened a year later following Hamas’s forcible takeover of the territory, and Israel began restricting the amounts of fuel allowed through the crossings.”

But they add this ‘mitigating’ paragraph:

“To cope with the situation, Palestinians gradually developed tunnel infrastructure allowing the transfer of large quantities of fuel into Gaza, at a cheaper price, which resulted in an almost complete halt in the purchase from Israel,” OCHA said.
Gaza’s main power plant has closed down on several occasions in the past because of fuel shortages.”

Yahoo hasn’t used so much ‘cut and paste,’ but its report contains roughly the same information, with an additional relevant paragraph.

“Abu Al-Amrain said Israel bore overall responsibility for the ongoing crisis, but Mustafa Ibrahim, a human rights researcher and writer, said Hamas’s administration had failed to provide the territory with an energy safety net.
“(The Energy Authority) made everything depend on fuel smuggled through the tunnels, without having any guarantees that this flow could continue. The current severe crisis is evidence that this was the wrong approach,” he said.

And Yahoo’s heart-rending paragraph:

The sound of generators roared in Gazan streets as businesses tried to keep the lights on, but the PCHR warned that the power cuts could have serious consequences. “The current crisis may impact access … to vital services,
including the supply of drinking water,” it said in a statement.

Yahoo continues:

Gaza’s precarious energy supply is bad at the best of times, with a rickety infrastructure system badly degraded during fighting between Israel and Hamas over the past five years.

Israel maintains a blockade by land, air and sea on Gaza to prevent weapons and material with potential military use from reaching Hamas, which is committed to destroying the Jewish state.

The editor is given credit: ” (Editing by Crispian Balmer)” Hats off to you Crispian!

One does wonder if Donnison is lazy stupid or disingenuous.

As far as I can tell, Jon Donnison’s report owes more to earlier BBC reports than to the aforementioned group.
For example, in January 2008 “Gaza City plunged into Darkness”

“Cars were still driving along Gaza City’s darkened streets
The only power plant in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has shut down because of a lack of fuel, Palestinian officials say, blaming Israeli restrictions.”

At that time they turned to John Ging, notorious for disseminating anti-Israel propaganda whenever the slightest opportunity presented itself, for their heart-rending plea.

In November 2008 they were at it again. Gaza power cut blamed on blockade.
This time the shortage was blamed on Israel’s blockade because they couldn’t receive parts for the power plant, despite Israel supplying 60% of Gaza’s fuel, and the power plant providing 32% at the time as per the BBC.

“Israel closed the crossings after a rocket was fired at Israel late on Monday.
In the past, Israeli officials have accused Hamas of cynically exaggerating the impact of border closures to garner sympathy, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Jerusalem. But the United Nations relief agency in Gaza (Unrwa) has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis unless the crossings are opened.”

(Probably John Ging again)

In March 2010 the BBC website boasted a slideshow of 10 images of various people in Gaza with generators and various people in Gaza who need generators, photographs kindly supplied by Karl Schrembi of Oxfam.

Jon Donnison’s article reads like a series of disconnected and emotive sentences. He could have copied and pasted from non BBC material and still been lazy, but he would have looked less stupid and less disingenuous if he had at least tried to appear less biased.