Memo to Polly Toynbee: regarding Deir Yassin

Memo to Polly Toynbee: Deir Yassin must be remembered!

Over the past week, there has been a concerted effort by pro-Israel advocates to smear Jeremy Corbyn and accuse him of anti-semitism because of his steadfast support for Palestinian human rights. Several articles, repeating the same mantra, under different bylines, emanate from the British Israel Communications and Resarch Centre (BICOM) 

On August 14, @pollytoynbee tweeted:

“Wise words from excellent ‪@J_Bloodworth : foreign policy is being all but ignored in Lab leadership.Read this ‪http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/13/jeremy-corbyn-labour-leadership-foreign-policy-antisemitism  

The article by James Bloodworth was a mash-up of one that first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle on August 10th by Marcus Dysch; a Jewish Chronicle editorial on August 12;  and another on the website Left Foot Forward, under the byline of Loris Cross-Bell, a researcher for the British Israel Communications and Research Centre.

Further work on behalf of BICOM has been carried out by Alan Johnson, an editor of Fathom.

Joan Ryan, the new ‘chairman’ of Labour Friends of Israel, was quick to join the smear campaign, expressing ‘concern’ at Corbyn’s candidature. Ivan Lewis, who attempted to establish ‘guilt by association’ rather than make an outright accusation, had to hurriedly backtrack when a headline in the Daily Telegraph, featuring his insinuations, spelled out his underlying accusation of anti-semitism.

Bloodworth mirrored Lewis, stating that, “Because there is no direct evidence that he has an issue himself with Jews, there is overwhelming evidence of his association with, support for – and even in one case, alleged funding of – Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites.”

His reference was to an organization known as Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR).

Both Bloodworth and Loris Cross-Bell use near-identical language when pointing out that DYR is ‘an organization so extreme that even the Palestine Solidarity Campaign refuses to associate with it.’

Others repeated this implication (“even the Palestine Solidarity Campaign”), hinting that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is itself anti-Semitic, but DYR is even more so!

None of these writers mention that Jeremy Corbyn is Honorary President of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and was involved in deciding the PSC’s stance towards DYR and other holocaust deniers who were promptly exposed and expelled by the organization at a packed AGM. Like Jeremy Corbyn, the PSC is firmly anti-racist and rigorously opposes anti-semitism.

Like Corbyn, the PSC advocates human, civil, national and political rights for Palestinians. This stance has invoked the smear campaign by BICOM and those working on behalf of the Government of Israel.

In the early 2000s, I attended two events organised by DYR in London, having read about its American counterpart which was set up to raise funds to build a Nakba memorial dedicated to all those who were massacred during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, known as The Nakba, to make way for the foundation of the State of Israel.

The first such event, as I remember, was held in a reform synagogue in St. Johns Wood and featured music, poetry and readings by renowned actors. I do not recall whether Jeremy Corbyn was there, but there were certainly some Members of Parliament, public figures and Church Leaders. It was a given that we were in a space where the issue of antisemitism would not arise.

A year later, musicians, dancers and actors, gave a performance for Medical Aid for Palestinians, organised by DYR, at the Peacock Theatre. Shortly after that, my friend, the late Hanna Braun, issued a warning regarding the involvement in DYR of Israel Shamir, a Russian-Swedish Israeli with links to Paul Eisen.

A bloc of DYR board members, including Hanna, resigned in protest. Over time, Eisen and his Israeli associate, Gilad Atzmon, emerged openly as Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, with links to extreme rightwing groups and individuals. The potential damage to the Palestine solidarity movement was averted by the speedy, anti-racist action of PSC. It is hard not to draw the conclusion that the subversion of DYR was designed to fatally damage the solidarity movement and PSC was the prime target on their list.  For too long, the activities of Eisen and Atzmon continued to be facilitied by the Socialist Workers Party.

Hanna Braun, who died a few weeks after the publication of her autobiography in 2011, was an anti-Zionist Jewish woman who’d been taken to Palestine as a child. While a teenager she was recruited into the Haganah, a Jewish terrorist group. She remembered Deir Yassin in her frank account of her life, Weeds Don’t Perish, Garnet, 2011.

‘Early one morning in April 1948 a friend burst into my room with tears streaming down her face. “They’re massacring everyone in Deir Yassin!” she cried…the senseless brutality of such slaughter was incomprehensible. Even more despicable was the parading of some of the male villagers in an open van through the streets of Jerusalem prior to their being shot. Our only comfort, if such it could be called, was that the atrocity was perpetrated by the Stern Gang, forerunners of Likud. That fig leaf was torn from us when, a few months later Stern and Etzel members were incorporated into the army and their commanders became our officers.”

It is worth noting that in his Jewish Chronicle article, Marcus Dysch, refers to the “alleged killing by Jewish soldiers of 100 Arabs before the 1948 war of Independence.”

This language says all you need to know about Nakba denial. By using the word ‘alleged,’ Dysch plants an element of doubt about an event that is well documented, is not denied by Israeli historians and is pictorially represented in the national archives of the State of Israel. Calling Palestinians “Arabs” avoids the word “Palestine” or “Palestinian” in a bid to render Palestinians invisible. Referring to the massacres, ethnic cleansing and land grab upon which the State of Israel was established as a “War of Independence,” is both Nakba denial and a cover-up of Israel’s colonial settler enterprise.

Hanna Braun was determined that Deir Yassin should and must be remembered. Her book chronicles her journey from Zionism to activism in the Palestine solidarity movement.

The original organization, based in the USA, whose name was appropriated by Eisen to discredit the solidarity movement worldwide, had among its initial advisory board, Hanan Ashrawi and Edward Said. Its website  quoted Simon Wiesenthal’s observation that “Hope lives when people remember.”’ It is time to remember Deir Yassin, the symbol of the Nakba: Palestinian dispossession, forced expulsion, massacre and oppression.

Rare BBC Editorial Complaints Unit ruling on Edo Hecht article:

British Broadcasting Corporation White City, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS

Telephone: 020 8743 8000 Email: ecu@bbc.co.uk

Editorial Complaints Unit

AB/1400381

29 October 2014

Dear Ms Langford

“Gaza: How Hamas tunnel network grew”, bbc.co.uk

 

I am writing to let you know the outcome of the ECU’s investigation into your complaint about this article on the BBC news website. I am sorry that you were not happy with the response you received when you first raised this with the BBC. We have now read the article and reviewed the earlier correspondence and conducted research on the internet. I have considered your complaint against the BBC Editorial Guidelines concerning Accuracy, particularly that which says:

We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, and provide their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status.

The author of the article, Dr Eado Hecht, is described as

…an independent defence analyst and lecturer in military doctrine at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University.

You have complained that it is inaccurate to describe him as independent given his association with the Israeli military. This is described by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA):

Dr. Eado Hecht is an independent defense analyst specializing in military doctrine and its interpretation. He teaches military theory and military history at Bar-Ilan University, Haifa University and at the Israeli Defense Forces Command and General Staff College, and serves on the Editorial Advisory Panel of The Journal of Military Operations.

In response to your complaint, the Middle East desk at the BBC news website has made the point that as Dr Hecht is not employed full-time by BESA, or any other institution, the description is appropriate. They say:

Eado Hecht is independent in that he is not employed on any full-time basis by any institution, including the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (Besa). He is an external lecturer, who gets paid per course only.

At the time he was commissioned to write the article, Eado Hecht was not teaching at the Israel Defense Forces Command and General Staff College as his contract had ended. As he is independent, the General Staff College is one of a number of institutions where he has been paid to lecture. As pointed out in an earlier response: “If Mr Hecht was employed by the IDF he would have required the IDF’s express permission to write for the BBC, and then by [Israeli] law he would not be permitted to accept any payment from us.”

When Eado Hecht wrote the article, Besa was his only active contract.

I understand the point they are making but it seems to me that, particularly in this context, this is an unduly narrow definition of “independent” which, based on employment, is not one that the audience would be aware was being used. In this context, I believe that the average reader would take the word to mean the position of someone who is not aligned with a particular party in a dispute and who stands aside from it, offering independent analysis. This does not seem to be the case with Dr Hecht. Without wishing to cast any aspersions on his academic credentials, it would appear to me that articles published under Dr Hecht’s name reveal a clear pro-Israel perspective and offer guidance and analysis as to how Israel might better prosecute its dispute with the Palestinians.[1] I note, for example, one he co-authored in 2005, entitled: “Neglect of IDF Ground Forces: A Risk to Israel’s Security” whose executive summary says:

Dramatic cuts to the IDF budget have forced the army to reduce its ground forces capabilities. This is a mistake, as the IDF still must rely on a capable and credible ground force to deal with its strategic threats, specifically the rocket-launching capabilities of Hamas and Hizballah.[2]

In addition, Dr Hecht’s connection with BESA is not confined to that of an external lecturer paid according to the courses he teaches. His articles are also published under the imprimatur of BESA, which describes itself as advancing

…a realist, conservative, and Zionist agenda in the search for security and peace for Israel. The center conducts policy-relevant research on strategic subjects, particularly as they relate to the national security and foreign policy of Israel and Middle East regional affairs.

BESA Center publications and policy recommendations are directed at senior Israeli decision-makers in military and civilian life, the defense and foreign affairs establishments in Israel and abroad, the diplomatic corps, the press, the academic community, leaders of Jewish communities around the world, and the educated public.[3]

This is a clearly pro-Zionist agenda and unless Dr Hecht’s articles, published under BESA’s auspices, explicitly disassociate themselves from this mission statement – which they do not – it seems to me that they must inevitably be considered part of BESA’s endeavours. The fact that BESA describes him as “independent” does not dispose of this issue given the problem of definition which I have identified above.

Finally, I note that, in 2002, Dr Hecht appeared on CBS 60 Minutes, in a report investigating Iraqi and Iranian backing for terrorism, where he was described as a senior Israeli intelligence official.[4]

Taking all of this into account and bearing in mind the meaning that the average reader is likely to ascribe to the term, I do not believe that “independent defence analyst” is sufficiently accurate or informative in relation to Dr Hecht, and I am upholding your complaint.

As Andrew Bell explained in his earlier email, this is a provisional finding and you have the opportunity to comment on it before it is finalised. If you wish to take that opportunity, I’d be grateful if you would let me have your comments by 12 November. In the meantime, thank you for writing to us and giving us the opportunity to investigate your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Fraser Steel

Head of Editorial Complaints

[1] http://besacenter.org/author/ehecht/

[2] http://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/neglect-idf-ground-forces-risk-israels-security/

[3] http://besacenter.org/about/mission/

[4] http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/760059/posts

BBC Today Programme, 19.3.15: Ya’alon

I’d be grateful to receive a reply to this complaint. Thanks.
The Today Programme Thursday 19th March 2015 showed institutional pro-Iraeli bias when, at 08.39, Sarah Montague hosted Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon. I say ‘hosted’ rather than ‘interviewed’ for the following reasons:
Ya’alon was given free rein without being challenged to claim that Palestinians “enjoy political independence,” “decided to be divided,” and that “Arabs” have “the same civil rights as we enjoy.”
Ms Montague facilitated Israel’s extremist, illegal actions by presenting them as normal. She went further, plugging the Israeli narrative and drawing out further excesses from Mr Ya’alon. By treating with kid gloves a putative war criminal representing a self-avowed racist government that has vigorously reaffirmed its determination to defy international law, Ms Montague was actively enabling war crimes.
How was it possible that she remained silent while a torrent of lies was disseminated on air? Can you tell me why she did not challenge the fantasmagoric assertion that “Actually, they enjoy already political independence. They have their own political system, government, Parliament, municipalities and so forth…We don’t want to govern them whatsoever.”
Mr Ya’alon was allowed to speak for nearly three minutes, uninterrupted, unchallenged, before Ms Montague decided to ask him another simpatico question.
Is it possible that Ms Montague has never heard of checkpoints, the apartheid wall, the military occupation under which the life of every single Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza is jeopardised, restricted and terrorised? Where was she when white phosphorous rained down on Gaza? When whole families were wiped out? Is it possible that the BBC is more obliging to the Israeli regime than even the United States of America, whose government has today expressed concern over the racism and extremism that was manifested during the election campaign, and Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution?
Had Ms Montague not heard about Mr Ya’alon’s colleague, the Israeli FM who has recommended “beheading Arabs”? Had she not heard about Mr Netanyahu’s Jim Crow warning to get the right-wing voters out: “Arabs are being bussed to the polling stations”?
Did Ms Montague not know that Israel reacted with extreme violence to the formation of a Palestinian unity government? Otherwise, how come she did not challenge Ya’alon when he concocted his fiction that “they decided to be divided into two principal entities.” Has she not heard of the UN partition plan of 1947 that imposed the State of Israel in the region and divided Palestinian land to make way for Israel?
Why did Ms Montague focus on ‘security’ issues for Israel raised by the spectre of a unitary state with equal rights for all citizens? This echoed Israel’s racist ‘demographic problem’ that manifests in ethnic cleansing, threats of ‘transfer’ and keeping Palestinians in a state of constant terror.
Ms Montague showed no concern for the victims of Israel’s extremist, apartheid policies.
While she has no such inhibitions when she interviews Palestinians – a rare occasion, admittedly, isn’t it strange that she becomes meek and obliging when ‘interviewing’ Israeli war criminals?
Yours sincerely,
Diane Langford

The Honourable Woman BBC2/Sundance

Morally Repugnant Story-telling

 

‘The Honourable Woman’, BBC 2/Sundance

 

Where to start with a critique of this series? With the finale still to come, it’s safe to say The Honourable Woman is a dishonourable endeavour with delusions of grandeur. Writers of fiction often assert an infinite horizon within which they can write about anything under the sun, liberating the imagination, say, to adopt the voice of a character of a different gender, ethnicity or species. Nothing is out of bounds. But without any historical contextualisation or factual accuracy, the results can be of variable authenticity and levels of offensiveness. Ricky Gervais, for instance, has plumbed the depths with his ghastly depictions of disabled people. Larger productions have included ‘Birth of a Nation’ and ‘Exodus,’ both examples of blockbuster propaganda efforts to make heroic narratives out of colonial settlement and dispossession.

The concept of ‘the Israel-Palestine conflict,’ so-called by the BBC – in reality a brutal military occupation – is adopted by writer-producer Hugo Blick, conforming to the corporation’s obsessive falsehood of ‘two sides,’ both behaving badly. Lack of authenticity is just one of its failings.

Blick gave an interview to Rebecca Nicolson in the Guardian (Saturday, 16th August, 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/aug/15/the-honourable-woman-hugo-blick-spy-thriller-middle-east-maggie-gyllenhaal) in which she praises a narrative constructed ‘under the opaque moral uncertainty of no side behaving well.’ An Israeli entrepreneur philanthropist ‘attempts to build reconciliation between Israel and Palestine,’ writes Nicolson, without considering that reconciliation usually takes place after an occupation or apartheid regime has ended. ‘The first episode aired at almost the same time as the resurgence of violence in Jerusalem…it could not be more timely.’ Violence in Jerusalem is always present as it is an occupied/annexed city whose Palestinain occupants undergo continual ethnic cleansing, house demolition, arrests, etc, but I wonder whether she is referring to the latest attack on Gaza? What would be timely – indeed, what the times cry out for – is truth telling, in both drama and reportage. The risible notion of balance, a smokescreen for privileging the Zionist narrative, has been taken to extremes in the BBC’s coverage. Thousands of films, books and TV series have been produced about the Nazis and nobody talks about ‘balancing’ the Nazi point of view with that of their victims.

In this series, the ongoing occupation and massacres are not depicted. The shallowness, inauthenticity and grandiose claims of Blick’s drama is blown to bits by the latest round of invasion, bombing and destruction perpetrated by the Israelis and watched in horror by millions on their TV screens.

The Guardian interview includes a disingenuous disclaimer: the writer-director pinpoints two morally repugnant tropes, readily admitting that his narrative relies on them. One is the notion that women who have been raped are gagging to repeat the experience and, to that end, become danger junkies. The second is that the oppression of the Palestinian people is an irrelevance and must be invisibilised.

Blick’s self-serving distancing of himself from the herd of other ‘glib’ writers is as dishonourable as the project itself, given that the series is entirely dependent on occupation and rape. ‘Within dramas, within the context of a thriller, rape is used as a story-telling device so glibly. We make it the middle of the story’. Blick explains the second rape: ‘It’s important that the character was trying to orbit the problem by returning to it, or returning to the danger of it, and going across that line.’

The founding of the State of Israel, the dispossession of the Palestinians, the endless occupation, siege, land theft and killings, cry out for authenticity in the telling, fiction or not. Peter Kosminsky’s four-parter, The Promise, turned down by the BBC and eventually made for Channel 4, was exemplary. Imagine making a TV series about South Africa through the lens of white racists without reference to apartheid?         As Blick’s Israeli heroine sweeps through a checkpoint in a convoy of limos, we glimpse, just for a second, Palestinians queueing up to go through the turnstiles, but unless the viewer is familiar with the scenario, that moment could easily be lost. The strand of plot involving the contracts for laying cables for a mobile phone network (again positing a false equivalence) in the West Bank dramatises the possibility of the Israelis and Americans listening in. In reality, the even more sinister use of the airwaves under Israeli control enables them to carry out targeted assassinations guided by victims’ phones. Absurdly, the Palestinian envoy in London – whose real-life counterpart is never invited to appear on the BBC, while Israeli spokespeople flood the news – is depicted as having a plush office and instant access to top level British intelligence agents, just as the Israelis do. The Israeli characters are rounded, cultured and complex, the Palestinian characters, thuggish and duplicitous.

Blick is concerned that ‘viewers might think’ that he is ‘capitalising on the conflict.’ Of a visit to Hebron he opines, the violence and conflict ‘is like a volcano that goes down and comes back up,’ and ‘it’s a complication that never goes away,’ evincing no awareness of the way in which military occupation deliberately creates eruptions of violence. He congratulates himself for what he describes as ‘a dexterity to the story-telling.’ It’s a dexterity that requires frequent pointers such as ‘three years later’ and after a few more unconnected scenes ‘eight years earlier’ and so on. No wonder Maggie Gyllenhaal was ‘alarmed by the whole idea’ and, according to Nicolson, ‘had to be pushed’ into accepting the role. What were those other fine actors thinking of? Lindsay Duncan has few lines and spends her screen time staring distractedly into the middle distance. Stephen Frea adopts his usual lugubrious, hangdog expression to no particular avail. Janet McTeer plays Frea’s ball-breaking spy-mistress and Eve Best, so great as Dr O’Hara in Nurse Jackie, should get back to All Saints as fast as her legs can carry her.

 

 

 

Palestine and the Media: talk at University of Kent, during Israel Apartheid week 2013

Palestine and the Media: Talk at the University of Kent during

Israeli Apartheid Week – 26/2/13

 

Let’s start with the case of local rapper, Mic Righteous, from Margate, whose freestyle ‘Free Palestine’ was censored by the BBC’s Radio One: a sound effect was inserted over the word “Palestine” by the station’s duty editor. Following hundreds of complaints the corporation issued a statement:

“All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to Mic Righteous’ freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained.”

With colleagues from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, I met Helen Boaden, then Head of News at the BBC, early last year. She attempted to explain the obliteration of the word Palestine: it was a mistake by a tired, hapless editor, late at night, trying to avoid controversy. The point is, why would any BBC employee feel that to mention Palestine is controversial?

By contrast, last week, Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, a flagship Sunday programme, repeated on Friday mornings, featured the columnist, Julie Burchill. Celebrities are invited to choose eight tunes they’d like to take with them were they to be marooned on a desert island. Burchill chose the Israeli National Anthem, the theme to the film Exodus and a Zionist pop song.

A word about Exodus: this film was huge when it came out starring one of the biggest Hollywood icons of the day, Paul Newman. It showed the power of cinema to shape people’s perceptions, even though the film has long ago been thoroughly exposed as myth-making propaganda…along the lines of D.W. Griffiths’ Birth of a Nation, which presents the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans as heroic nation-building.

Burchill’s choices were all aired without censorship. Such hypocrisy would be laughable if it wasn’t for the tragic situation underlying the BBC’s double standards.

I’ve been following the BBC’s coverage of the so-called ‘Israel-Palestine conflict’ for many years and gave evidence to the 2006 independent panel on impartiality that produced the Thomas Report. This document was shelved, despite its helpful findings. Ironically, the review was set up at the behest of the Zionist Federation who like to maintain the fiction that the BBC is biased against Israel. Instead, Thomas found that BBC coverage fails to convey the asymmetry of the conflict and doesn’t provide sufficient context to viewers and listeners to enable them to understand the background.

The BBC, like most western media, has unquestioningly adopted the Israeli narrative and language.

In fact, even the analogy of a ‘dual narrative’ is itself misleading, as the Israeli and Palestinian narratives are not equally valid. One represents the occupier and the other the occupied. The dispossession and occupation of Palestine is often referred to as ‘The Israel Palestine Conflict’ implying a conflict between two equal parties.

I’ll focus on the BBC because of its vast global footprint and its role as a public broadcaster obliging it to educate and inform its viewers and listeners. The Murdoch empire would require a whole other talk, but I recommend a quick look at what Sam Kiley has written from his point of view as a journalist who experienced the atmosphere of fear in the newsroom at The Times whenever Ariel Sharon’s close friend, Rupert Murdoch, telephoned.

In 2004 Greg Philo and Mike Berry of the Glasgow Media Group published a groundbreaking piece of research called “Bad News from Israel” establishing that most people get their information from television. They uncovered astonishing levels of public ignorance about Israel and Palestine and established a clear link between this information gap and the way the situation is reported. Respondents told researchers that even the phrase “occupied territory” doesn’t make clear who is occupying what. Just a couple of words could make that clear. Lack of time or space, doesn’t justify the omission of crucial words, and only adds to incomprehension and a feeling of helplessness. An impression is created that the problem is too difficult, too intractable and too complicated to understand.

Perhaps this is explained by a statement from the Israeli embassy press secretary, 21st September, 2001, carried by the The Independent newspaper.

“London is a world centre of media and the embassy here works night and day to try to influence that media. And, in many subtle ways, I think we don’t do a half bad job, if I may say so. We have newspapers that write consistently in a manner that supports and understands Israel’s situation and its challenges. And we have had influence on the BBC as well.”

The BBC changes its terminology to fit current Israeli PR requirements. For instance, Israel’s initial descriptor for its grotesque Wall was “separation fence”. When it became clear that comparisons with apartheid were invoked by reference to “separation” this term was dropped. In lock-step with Israel’s PR concerns, the BBC duly began using the new preferred term “security fence’.

Even when the Israeli army kills unarmed civilians the people involved are referred to as “militants”. A young boy was killed near the Wall and his murder was justified because he could have been ‘a look out for militants.’

When the Israeli army, one of the most powerful in the world, enters refugee camps or Palestinian towns with tanks and helicopters, the BBC describes the resulting slaughter as ‘pitched battles with militants.’

Another example of bias is manifested by the BBC’s practice of buying Israeli-produced programmes and showing un-mediated, non-attributed IDF propaganda footage. Imagine the BBC giving prime airtime to film coverage supplied by a Palestinian crew from a Palestinian perspective.

Though there are several Israeli nationals reporting from Jerusalem for the BBC, there are no Palestinian journalists with similar responsibilities – these are just “stringers.” Would the BBC send a Palestinian journalist to report on Israeli issues? Obviously this would be unthinkable even in terms of how such a reporter would traverse checkpoints and avoid closures, let alone obtain a press pass from the occupying power.

Despite a burgeoning Palestinian film industry, an incredible achievement of a people living under occupation, the BBC chooses to operate what amounts to a boycott of films produced by Palestinians, including feature films.

The courageous, non-violent demonstrations against the occupation, especially those against the apartheid Wall have not been given any attention by the BBC. The Israeli government restricts access to such demonstrations, but if Haaretz and Al Jazeera can cover these demonstrations, why not the BBC?

And there’s ample YouTube material: in the case of Syria and Iran, the BBC has no qualms about using uploaded mobile phone clips.

There’s a stark contrast between the rudeness with which Palestinians are often treated, as opposed to the deference shown to Israeli spokespersons, many of whom could be indicted as war criminals. The BBC appears to be at pains to avoid posing hard questions about the illegality of Israel’s actions when interviewing Israeli leaders.

Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister (in post during Operation Cast Lead) was in London on 6 October, last year, to meet William Hague. This led to a seven-minute interview with her on the ‘Today’ programme.

Evan Davis listened to Livni without a single challenge or interruption of any kind.

Having her on the Today programme was an opportunity to grill her on the arrest warrant issued against her in the UK in December 2009, which led to her cancelling a previous visit to London for fear of arrest. The warrant gave details of war crimes she is alleged to be guilty of: the use of phosphorous bombs, the avoidable massacre of civilians, attacking an unarmed, occupied population. As a result of Livni’s warrant, and the cancellation of visits by other Israeli officials, the Conservative Party took out a full page advert in the Jewish Chronicle in the run-up to the 2010 General Election, pledging to amend the legislation on universal jurisdiction that allows such warrants to be issued. They began work on this after taking power in May 2010 and, on September 15, 2011, the changes came into place as part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act. Despite this change in the law, which makes it harder for war criminals to face arrest in the UK, Livini was also granted ‘special mission’ status by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to enable her to make last October’s visit without fear of arrest.

Not a single question was asked on the Today programme about this extraordinary situation and Livni was in complete control of the interview. International law was ignored and Davis ratified illegal occupation and war crimes by referring to them as the ‘robust position’ taken by Israel.

What is left out of BBC reportage is often more significant than what is included. You could call this censorship by omission. For instance, as far as the mainstream media is concerned, the long-lasting campaign of hunger strikes by political prisoners has not been happening.

It is noticeable that words such as “quiet” are often used to describe periods in which no Palestinian resistance has occurred, even as targeted killings, house demolitions, land theft and mass arrests continue on a daily basis. If we didn’t know otherwise, it could be assumed “nothing” was happening. This indicates that Palestinian lives are considered less significant than Israeli ones.

Jerusalem is often referred to as the capital of Israel, rather than Tel Aviv, the internationally recognised capital; Palestinian towns such as Bethlehem and Jericho are frequently cited as being part of Israel; settlements are referred to as ‘Jewish neighbourhoods.’

Any Israeli violence must be presented as retaliatory, when all sources outside Israeli governmental circles show that this is not the case. It is as if ‘balance’ involves not reporting anything that shows Israel in a bad light. Can this bias be unintentional when we consider for example that the BBC Board of Governors has included Pauline Neville Jones, prominent member of Conservative Friends of Israel (incidentally also a director of weapons company Qinetiq, which trades arms with Israel, specialising in drones)?

In November 2009, Channel 4 broadcast a programme about the pro-Israel lobby, presented by Peter Oborne, of The Daily Telegraph. Dispatches approached Jonathan Dimbleby, who’d authored a powerfully argued article for the UK-based website Index on Censorship, criticizing the BBC’s betrayal of Jeremy Bowen, its Middle East editor. Dimbleby was keen to be interviewed by the show’s producers and the Dispatches team was baffled when he abruptly backed out.

In 2000, near the Lebanese border, Bowen witnessed an Israeli tank attack that incinerated his local colleague and driver, Abed Takkoush. Andrew Balcombe, Zionist Federation Chair, immediately wrote to the BBC Trust demanding Bowen’s removal as Middle East editor, claiming this incident was a “tragic mistake” that “may have colored [his] views about Israel.” Ever since, Israel’s allies have targeted Bowen.

He was accused of using language that “appears to be calculated to promote hatred of the Jewish state and the Jews.”

The BBC Trust upheld a complaint that Bowen had breached their standards of accuracy and impartiality by stating: “Zionism’s innate instinct to push out the frontier” and “the Israeli generals, mainly hugely self-confident Sabras in their late 30s and early 40s, had been training to finish the unfinished business of 1948 for most of their careers.”

Moreover, Dispatches discovered that the BBC’s Dimbleby began to experience exactly the same process of complaints that he described in the Bowen case. After attacking Bowen, the Zionist Federation’s Turner argued that Dimbleby’s defense of his colleague made him unfit to host the BBC’s popular radio program Any Questions.

In addition to those at the BBC, Dispatches discovered other members of the media who’ve been targeted by the Zionist lobby. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper, described a 2006 visit from Gerald Ronson, chairman of the Community Security Trust, a charity for British Jews, and Henry Grunwald, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The meeting was triggered by an article in the Guardian by Chris McGreal that compared Israel to apartheid South Africa. After an emergency meeting at the Israeli ambassador’s residence that was also attended by British Israel Research and Communications chairman Poju Zabludowicz, Grumwald and Ronson were dispatched to confront the Guardian editor. Ronson accused the Guardian of fomenting anti-Semitic attacks, stating that “There is a line which can’t be crossed, you’ve crossed it, and you must stop this.”

The Guardian’s relationship with Israel has evolved. In 1914 the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann met with the editor of the then Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott, a meeting that led to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. But the Guardian has fallen out of love with Israel now.

The website organisation HonestReporting organised an “email bombardment” of The Guardian which included a hate campaign against their correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg which was so intense that it prevented her from carrying out her job.

Other journalists who’ve been hounded out of their Middle East postings include Orla Guerin and Barbara Plett of the BBC.

BBC coverage of the Palestinian/Israeli prisoner exchange, in October 2011, entirely focused on the released Israeli prisoner, Gilad Shalit, a serving IDF soldier, who was described as ‘a shy little boy’. Palestinian prisoners were lumped together as a group ‘who have committed appalling crimes’. The BBC never asked if the Palestinian prisoners had been properly tried in court and held under a legal framework, or had been seized and held without trial. There was no mention of detained Palestinian children. The only references to Palestinian prisoners were in a context of terrorism and how their release would affect grieving/fearful Israeli families.

BBC coverage of the 2012 onslaught on Gaza slipped below even its previous low point – its 2008/09 reportage of ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ when the BBC refused to broadcast a routine charity appeal and allowed Israeli spokesperson, Mark Regev, to take over its air waves.

Israeli attacks on Gaza were presented as ‘in response to Palestinian attacks’. Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel are never presented as ‘in response’ to 64 years of Israeli occupation or four years of siege.

Again it was demonstrated that the concept of rule of law, international human rights law and the Geneva Conventions are apparently irrelevant to the BBC’s pre-determined lack of balance. Failure to rigorously challenge Israeli army and state spokespeople is a hallmark of the BBC’s bias in favour of the occupying power and against the occupied Palestinian people and amounts to complicity with Israeli war crimes.

The weighted concern for Israeli civilian deaths and injury as compared to those of the entrapped, besieged civilians in Gaza who were being bombed in 2008-2009 and again in 2012 represents corporate cruelty towards Palestinians as the BBC’s default policy.

The setting up of a false equivalence has always been the main feature of BBC coverage and was again deployed from the outset of Operation Pillar of Cloud, the Israeli name for its latest attack on Gaza.

This began with the slaying of a boy playing football and was deliberately escalated by Israel’s targeted assassination of Ahmed Al Jabari. Despite the political significance of Mr Al Jabari’s role as a seasoned negotiator and participant in the formulation of a longer-lasting ceasefire, there was barely any analysis of this extreme provocation and its implications. Neither was the peaceful Palestinian initiative to apply for non-state membership of the UN given due importance alongside Israel’s upcoming election as the motive for Israel’s aggression.

Unless Israel is under rocket attack, apparently nothing is happening that is of interest to the BBC’s listeners and viewers.

During ‘Operation Cast Lead’ and its aftermath, the BBC frequently invited Jonathan Sacerdoti, introducing him as a ‘political analyst’ when in fact he has been a Director of Public Affairs at the Zionist Federation. Mr Sacerdoti was again in BBC studios to defend the attacks and massacres in Gaza, just as he was when Israeli forces attacked the aid ship Mavi Marmara in international waters, killing nine passengers who were trying to break Israel’s inhumane siege of Gaza. On 15 November last year he joked on Facebook that he ‘may as well move in’ at the BBC after yet another interview was lined up.

Over 1,500 complaints were received by the BBC after it aired a Panorama programme called Death in the Med in which it claimed that the human rights defenders aboard the Mavi Marmara were responsible for their own deaths. Ms Boaden described critics of the programme as ‘obsessives.’

She went on to describe Death in the Med as a ‘brave, thorough and highly forensic examination of what went wrong [on the Mavi Marmara]’, and described the programme’s presenter, Jane Corbin, as ‘one of our absolutely best reporters’.

A BBC Trust inquiry into complaints about the programme conceded that it failed to use the autopsies on the nine passengers killed by Israeli commandos, failed to mention the mistreatment of passengers by Israeli soldiers, failed to mention the amount of aid being carried on the Mavi Marmara and unfairly dismissed the medical aid as being out of date.

Towards the end of last year the Palestine Solidarity Campaign requested a further meeting with Helen Boaden to review matters discussed at our previous meeting when PSC offered to provide a list of contacts based in Palestine and outside experts who’d be available 24/7 for interview and comment. We were told that we’d already had one meeting in 2012 and we couldn’t have another one so soon.

In light of comments made by Ms Boaden about the number of times she meets with ‘the other side’ as she put it, and the boast of Mr Sacerdoti about moving into the BBC studios, I made a Freedom of Information request asking how many times last year Ms Boaden had met the Zionist Federation, the British Board of Deputies and BICOM. This was refused on the grounds of journalistic exemption.

Despite all this, I believe there’s been a major shift in public understanding in the past ten years. This is the result of intensified campaigning by Palestine solidarity activists, widespread use of the new media and the horrific actions of Israel itself that no amount of propaganda can whitewash, greenwash or pinkwash. Above all, world opinion is changing because people are witnessing for themselves the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the face of dispossession, war crimes and apartheid.

The failure to tell the truth makes the media not only complicit but culpable. It’s up to us, international civil society, to tell the truth and spread awareness. So join PSC, take action whenever possible – be a part of the activism that counters the lies which perpetuate Palestinian oppression.

 

 

 

 

Newsnight complaint update

27th May 2010

Mr Bruce Vander,

Editorial Standards Committee,

The BBC Trust,

180 Great Portland Street,

London W1W 5QZ

Dear Mr Vander,

Richard Hutt has directed me to your Committee regarding my complaint (ref: RH1000081) against Newsnight, 19th Janury 2010. I am grateful for this opportunity to appeal against his findings.

In my opinion the segment featuring Colonel Tim Collins failed to ‘retain a respect for factual accuracy’ and did not ‘fairly represent opposing viewpoints when appropriate.’

Mr Hutt writes, in relation to Jeremy Paxman’s preview and opening cues:

‘It seems to me that these cues made clear to viewers that the report would give the “take” of Colonel Tim Collins on the conflict. I also consider that the introduction made clear that the perspective which Colonel Collins would offer would be that of a soldier, able to comment on the military exchanges that had taken place in the locations he visited. I would consider therefore that the report was appropriately signposted as an “authored” piece with a focus on the military aspect of the conflict.’

Contrary to the above, Colonel Collins completely failed to interrogate ‘military exchanges’ and instead chose to focus only on the feeble resistance to the overwhelming firepower of the Israeli offensive that a tiny number of Gazans were able to mount, ie. homemade rockets. He made no attempt to evaluate the ‘military exchanges’ initiated by Israel or to put these in the context of the breaking of the ceasefire with Hamas on the part of Israel. As I pointed out in my original complaint his analysis of whether weapons had been fired from a particular location did not hold up evidentially – he offered no evidence, only his biased opinion.

Colonel Desmond Travers, a co-author of the Goldstone Report, which, despite Israel’s attempts to undermine it, is the most authoritative and balanced source of material regarding Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, described the comments of Colonel Collins as ‘in breach of good evidentiary procedures.’

The segment did not live up to the introductory cues and was grossly biased and inhumane in its conclusion that the IDF were justified in firing on unarmed civilians and wiping out an entire family in one location visited. Many viewers were deeply shocked and saw this as of apiece with the BBC’s unfair decision not to broadcast the DEC appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Langford

Frankie Boyle hits back

Frankie Boyle: BBC are cowards
Comic defends Palestine gag

Frankie Boyle has lashed out at the BBC, branding them ‘cowardly’ and ‘cravenly afraid of giving offence’ after censuring one of his jokes.
In an angry open letter, the comedian hit back at the BBC Trust for apologising for a gag he felt drew some small attention to the ‘apartheid’ in Palestine.
The corporation’s governing body yesterday issued an apology for the joke Boyle made on Radio 4’s Political Animal two years ago. A listener took their complaint that the gag was anti-Semitic – although appearing on a show hosted by the Jewish Andy Zaltzman – all the way to the top.
They ruled that the gag was a ‘serious’ breach of BBC rules and said: ‘It said: ‘As a result, the committee wished to apologise to the complainant on behalf of the BBC for any offence the remark may have caused him and other listeners to the programme.’
However, Boyle says the Palestinian situation is a suitable topic for satire and defended the joke.
Here is the full text of his response:
Obviously, it feels strange to be on the moral high ground but I feel a response is required to the BBC Trust’s cowardly rebuke of my jokes about Palestine.
As always, I heard nothing from the BBC but read in a newspaper that editorial procedures would be tightened further to stop jokes with anything at all to say getting past the censors.
In case you missed it, the jokes in question are: ‘I’ve been studying Israeli Army Martial Arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back. People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well…that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.’
I think the problem here is that the show’s producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal was an appropriate target for satire. The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers. It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.
The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes. It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.
I told the jokes on a Radio 4 show called Political Animal. That title seems to promise provocative comedy with a point of view. In practice the BBC wish to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content. The most recent offering I saw was BBC Two’s The Bubble. It looked exactly like a show where funny people sat around and did jokes about the news. Except the thrust of the format was that nobody had read the papers. I can only imagine how the head of the BBC Trust must have looked watching that, grinning like Gordon Brown having his prostrate examined.
The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate. It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way. We didn’t just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn’t bear that people were being treated like that.
A few years ago I watched a documentary about life in Palestine. There’s a section where a UN dignitary of some kind comes to do a photo opportunity outside a new hospital. The staff know that it communicates nothing of the real desperation of their position, so they trick her into a side ward on her way out. She ends up in a room with a child who the doctors explain is in a critical condition because they don’t have the supplies to keep treating him. She flounders, awkwardly caught in the bleak reality of the room, mouthing platitudes over a dying boy.
The filmmaker asks one of the doctors what they think the stunt will have achieved. He is suddenly angry, perhaps having just felt at first hand something he knew in the abstract. The indifference of the world. ‘She will do nothing,’ he says to the filmmaker. Then he looks into the camera and says, ‘Neither will you’.
I cried at that and promised myself that I would do something. Other than write a few stupid jokes I have not done anything. Neither have you.
Frankie Boyle

BBC Respond to ‘Newsnight’ complaint

Complaint regarding “Newsnight” on BBC2

Dear Gerald McCusker,

Thank you for your response to my complaint about the ‘Newsnight’ broadcast on 19 January 2010. You correctly anticipated that I would not be satisfied with your reply.

Far from engaging with ‘military matters’ the segment by Colonel Tim Collins made no effort to analyse the military aspect of the attack on Gaza with any pretence at objectivity. If this had been the case why were we not shown the extent of Israel’s military might? The Israeli army is the fourth largest in the world and has a vast range of munitions from nuclear to buzzing drones that are partly for surveillance (not a cat’s whisker moves in Gaza without the Israeli military knowing about it) and partly for psychological warfare (they are constantly overhead, ‘like having a wasp in your ear’ as one Palestinian has described it).

By making out that homemade rockets pose a threat to the Israeli army’s arsenal as if there were two equally powerful sides, your programme set out to give credence to Israel’s propagandising justification for its blitz on Gaza using weapons of mass destruction such as phospherous bombs.

This ‘soldier’s view’ was biased against the Palestinian people and Colonel Collins’  ‘military eye’ was turned away from Israel’s massive armoury.

Regarding your point that overall context of the piece was clear, this was far from the case. By suggesting that that the level of resistance to Israel’s onslaught merited its description of ‘military matters’ and ‘soldier’s eye’ is to grossly distort the facts. The Palestinians do not possess an army. The Gazans do not possess any military equipment at all that is capable of confronting the Israeli Army. How is a ‘soldier’s eye’ appropriate in this one-sided situation? The entire commentary was from the point of view of the Israeli side and was completely biased and a distortion of facts on the ground.

This being the case, I wish to take my complaint to the next stage of the process.

Thank you for your help with this.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Langford

Dear Ms Langford

Thanks for your e-mail regarding ‘Newsnight’ broadcast 19 January 2010.

I understand you’re concerned by Colonel Tim Collins’ report in this particular programme and I note you feel that it offered a unbalanced and biased account of the situation in Gaza.

I’m sorry you were unhappy with our authored report by Colonel Tim Collins. It was not meant to provide a political analysis of the conflict. As was made clear in the introduction to the piece we were giving a “soldier’s view” of the conflict, introducing Colonel Tim Collins as a “celebrated war veteran,” indicating that this was a piece offering a personal view based on his military experience.

The overall context of the piece was clear, in the introduction we said that a year ago “the Israeli army was readying itself to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, after a three-week campaign which led to accusations of war crimes.” We then go on to say 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the conflict.

As a soldier, he examined the evidence at the mosque – and gave his opinion – in fact he used those words “my opinion” – about the cause of the secondary explosions that he had discerned. He didn’t talk about Goldstone and the wider context because he was just reporting with his military eye on what he was able to see on the ground.

The piece was not intended as a comprehensive report but a ‘what I was able to see and reflect upon’ authored piece about military matters that, while a personal view, nonetheless took pains to steer clear of the perceived political rights and wrongs of the conflict.

We have covered the Gaza incursion on ‘Newsnight’ in many ways, and this piece should be seen as one perspective in our overall coverage. The role of ‘Newsnight’ as a news and current affairs programme is to give our viewers distinctive coverage from the news bulletins and to offer new perspectives on long-running stories, and so engage our viewers. This is what we were attempting to do with this piece.

However I note the strength of your feelings in relation to this matter and accept that you may continue to disagree and I’d like to take a moment to assure you that I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log.

This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all news programme makers within the BBC, and also their senior management.

Thanks once again for taking the time to contact us.

Regards

Gerald McCusker

BBC Complaints

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

BBC2 Newsnight, complaint

Newsnight, Tuesday 19th January 2010

I was repelled by the ‘Newsnight’ segment featuring Colonel Tim Collins on Tuesday night. He was on an obvious mission to justify the Israeli massacre in Gaza that occurred a year ago. Given the BBC’s callous refusal to publicise The DEC appeal that followed this inhuman and, universally acknowledged, disproportionate attack, it is astonishing that you would follow this up with a downright justification of Israel’s horrific war crimes. The BBC’S claim to impartiality has been completely discredited by this sequence of events.

Colonel Collins, who has been compared to a character out of ‘Apocalypse Now,’ made no effort to make sense of the numbers of deaths involved: 13 Israelis (four of those were ‘friendly fire’, 1,400 Palestinians, involving hundreds of civilians, including women and children. Instead, he seemed unmoved by the evidence in front of him and chose only to see Hamas posters and interview the usual suspects in their ‘lair’ with an arsenal consisting of homemade rockets.

At Sderot, his guide was Mickey Roosevelt, ‘from North London’ who showed Colonel Collins the rockets collected since 2000 which have caused so little damage. He was not taken to review Israel’s arsenal of F16s, nuclear weapons, phosphorous bombs and all the other paraphanalia of the world’s fourth largest army. It was as if Israel was the unarmed victim, living in fear of having homes demolished, schools flattened and hundreds of civilians slaughtered.

The programme presented a complete distortion of the facts and made no attempt to inform, provide context, or even the slightest attempt at impartiality.

Colonel Collins is well-known for his gung-ho speeches (‘show them no mercy’, ‘we are their nemesis’) and boasts of his war record in the most brutal military interventions of the past decades. ‘Not as bad as Faluja,’ he commented, eyeing a flattened mosque. He claimed to have found proof of weapons having been stored in the crypt of this building, but there was no evidence shown on camera.

As he toured the region in an Israeli-piloted helicopter, he flew over Qalqilya, one of the Palestinian towns most grievously affected by Israel’s apartheid wall. ‘It’s to protect the main road,’ said the pilot, speaking of an Israeli-only road built on stolen Palestinian land.

Given the BBC’s complete blanking of the recent VivaPalestina Convoy, the Gaza Freedom March, and other efforts by civil society humanitarian activists from around the world, the programme takes on a special meaning. The depth of the BBC’s bias is demonstrated across the entire output of your programming and not only by the skewed nature of this particular item on ‘Newsnight.’

Israel is Bad News

Israel wants to be seen as a normal country while claiming exemption from international norms. It must twist the truth to play the victim, hide its brutal features, the occupation, the Wall, the Law of Return. Unrelenting hasbara (Heb. explanation/propaganda) is its only recourse. Wars that were months, sometimes years, in the making are backed up with scripts casting atrocities as benign. Last December Mark Regev and Major Avital Leibowitz stood by in well-equipped press facilities on the border, rehearsing predetermined denials before the first soldier set foot in Gaza.

Leibowitz, Deputy Spokesperson for the IDF, says its spokesperson’s office has opened up a 24-hour North American desk, a European desk, a Russian desk, a Latin American desk, a new Arabic desk, as well as a film and photo desk. She described three main objectives, ‘maximizing access for news media, twenty-four hour availability, and showing the human face of the IDF.’ Indignant assertions that the IDF is the ‘world’s most moral army’ spew down the wires.

The foreign ministry’s deputy director for cultural affairs, Arye Mekel, recently declared, ‘We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, plus theatre companies, exhibits. This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.’

Israeli Embassies around the world dictate terms of reference such as ‘disputed territories’ and ensure that Jerusalem is referred to as the capital of Israel. Many succumb to the constant barrage of zionist hasbara from cyber ops such as Honest Reporting, BBC Watch, The Jewish Internet Defence Force, Tom Gross Media and the use of downloadable gizmos like Giyus.

A network of emailers and bloggers, known as The Hasbara Brigade, supports Israel’s governmental, military and ‘diplomatic’ hasbara, demanding apologies, retractions and resignations. Suppression is the objective and Karl Sabbagh believes ‘for this to succeed it must be directed at people who are unfamiliar with the issues and who might be persuaded that they have somehow “got it wrong.”’

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) sent hundreds of lobbyists urging Members of Congress sign a letter to President Obama demanding Israel be ‘allowed to set the pace of any future negotiations.’ HonestReporting.com sent up to 6,000 emails a day to CNN executives, paralysing their system. The Jewish Internet Defence Force focuses on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Google Earth, taking control of social networking groups campaigning for Palestinian human rights and dismantling them.

Jim Hoagland revealed in The Washington Post ‘a queasiness between the two allies (USA and Israel) that cannot be publicly discussed by either without damaging political consequences.’ [April 26, 2009) That is hasbara at work.

Far from a heterogeneous ‘Jewish conspiracy’ the most influential purveyors of pressure and misinformation are united by a common neo-con agenda, not by race or religion. The intimidating spectre of Rupert Murdoch, personal friend of Ariel Sharon, haunts the newsrooms of London, Sydney and New York. On January 26, 2009, a London Times editorial parroted Murdoch’s Newscorp mantra: ‘Israel is better than its enemies…The bitter lesson of this war is that Hamas cannot be allowed to win.’ For ‘Hamas’ read ‘Palestinians’ and you get the drift.

Sam Kiley once wrote of the fear Murdoch instils, ‘The Times foreign editor and other middle managers flew into hysterical terror every time a pro-Israel lobbying group wrote in with a quibble or complaint, and then usually took their side against their own correspondent—deleting words and phrases from the lexicon to rob its reporters of the ability to make sense of what was going on.’ [6th September 2001, ‘Middle East War of Words,’ Evening Standard.]

Associated Newspapers’ Daily Mail with over two million readers always mirrors Israel’s pronouncements,‘Revealed: UNRWA spokesman who lied about Israel’s shelling of a school previously worked at the BBC with Jeremy Bowen.’ [January 9, 2009]

An example of the solidarity Israel receives from other colonial settler societies and their presses was the walkout in Geneva at The Durban Review Conference, ‘A great victory,’ Shimon Peres crowed. The influence of hasbara was noticeable in coverage of the event.

Haider Eid, writing about The Durban Review Conference for Maan, reminds us,

‘The conflict has been misrepresented, by CNNized mainstream media owned by those who decided to boycott the DRC, as a “war” between “two sides.” In fact, as I have argued, and as the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said put it, there are not two sides involved in the “violence” in the Middle East. There is a colonial state turning all its great power against a stateless people, repeatedly made refugees – a dispossessed people, bereft of arms with the aim of destroying this people.’

A sign that the tide is turning came when former Evening Standard editor Max Hastings wrote in the Guardian on Saturday, 9th May, 2009, that he has ‘fallen out of love with Israel.’ He spoke for many more journalists and editors who, for decades, unquestioningly tolled the bell for the zionist state but are now wearying of its needy, megaphonic demands.

Max Hastings’ article can be read in full at: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2009/05/08/limitsofforce-hastings.pdf