Facebook Twitter YouTube SoundCloud RSS

There are a hundred reasons why it’s time to pull the plug on this rotten BBC

BasilV-Avatar(1)Basil Valentine
21st Century Wire

There are so many jumping off points for an article about the egregiousness of the BBC that it’s very difficult to know where to begin, but let’s start with filmmaker Ken Loach who was speaking outside the BBC offices in Bristol last week at a demonstration against the Corporation’s bias in its reporting of the current Gaza conflict.

“They don’t put the views of Palestinians to the Israelis during interviews, while the use of language about Gazans is pejorative and the war crimes being committed against them ignored. They’re not ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists,’ they’re ‘resistance fighters.’ On the one side innocent people are being massacred, while the other are setting off a few fireworks. It’s the BBC, we own it, so it should be answerable.”

Indeed it should Ken. You can write to Feedback, Radio 4’s weekly digest of praise and complaints, where the sages of the high command just may or may not deign to read your letter, or of course you can go through the formal procedure of making a complaint (good luck with that one – ed.).

But answerable in a meaningful way? Not a chance.
Loach was echoed by the comedian Mark Thomas who added:

“The BBC reporting of the Israeli military assault on Gaza has failed time and time again to contextualise the violence, refusing to explain the occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza.”

Siege of Gaza? Steady Mark, that sounds rather biased. Are you sure you’re not supporting terrorists? 
We need to get into a fair bit more detail to understand why Ken Loach and Mark Thomas feel so aggrieved, and to remember too the BBC’s charter, which commits it to ‘fair and balanced’ reporting. 
However, where one side is a nation state – in this case Israel – and the other a displaced populace with refugee status, the Beeb seems to find this incredibly difficult. But it’s very crafty in its bias, as the website Electronic Intifada has pointed out:

In addition to flooding its radio and television programs with Israeli spokespeople, while keeping Palestinian voices to a minimum, the BBC, as it did during Israel’s 2012 assault on Gaza, has taken to presenting pro-Israel commentators as independent.

BBC audiences are, therefore, given strong doses of pro-Israeli propaganda — being told that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, that Israel has shown nothing but restraint in the face of constant rocket attacks, that it is defending its citizens and so on — while under the impression that they are hearing neutral, independent comment.

These key Israeli messages are, of course, more likely to be believed by viewers and listeners if they think they are impartial observations, rather than the opinions of pro-Israeli spokespeople.

On 17 July, as part of its 10pm news broadcast, the BBC News Channel ran an interview with Davis Lewin, deputy director and head of policy and research at the Henry Jackson Society.

The Henry Jackson Society is a virulently pro-Israel think tank, described in 2012 by its founding member, Marko Attila Hoare, as “an abrasively right-wing forum with an anti-Muslim tinge, churning out polemical and superficial pieces by aspiring journalists and pundits that pander to a narrow readership of extreme Europhobic British Tories, hardline US Republicans and Israeli Likudniks.” 

Worse was to follow on the BBC’s flagship morning news radio show, the Today programme. 
A July 31 discussion as to whether Israel’s current assault on Gaza had a legal basis, it interviewed, not just one, but two, Israelis. And not a single Palestinian.  Here is Electronic Intifada again: 

The first Israeli interviewed was Pnina Sharvit Baruch. Listeners were told she was the “former head of international law at the IDF [the Israeli military], now a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies [in Tel Aviv].

What they weren’t told is that Sharvit Baruch was a colonel in the Israeli army, retiring after Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. They were not told that, in that role, she legitimized strikes on civilians in Gaza during Cast Lead, including the attack on the graduation ceremony of new police officers, which resulted in 180 Palestinians being killed.

She was considered so extreme that, in 2009, staff at Tel Aviv University protested her appointment as a lecturer in law. She was not, however, considered too extreme for the BBC.

The day before she made her unchallenged appearance on Today, Sharvit Baruch was interviewed on the legalities of Israel’s attack by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), which describes itself as being “dedicated to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain.” 

On Today she was joined by Yuri Dromi, introduced by presenter Sarah Montague as “director-general of the Jerusalem Press Club, but he used be a spokesman for the Israeli government in the Nineties.”

Sharvit Baruch and Dromi enjoyed nine minutes of gentle questioning by Montague. Her acceptance of everything they said and her failure to ask a single challenging or critical question was compounded by the absence of a Palestinian spokesperson who could have made that challenge instead and offered a different viewpoint.

It was an extraordinarily biased piece of pro-Israeli broadcasting, even by BBC standards. Montague’s questions seemed to be set up as deliberate cues for Sharvit Baruch and Dromi to set out the Israeli government’s key messages.

For example, she asked Sharvit Baruch, “Would you be advising the Israeli army that what they have done is legal?”

What answer did she seriously expect?

If the BBC wanted a genuinely impartial answer to this question, it could have invited a UN spokesperson onto Today to answer it. To ask it of a former Israeli army legal advisor who has green-lighted previous massacres seemed like a deliberate invitation to propaganda, not an attempt at serious journalism.”

Meanwhile much to the irritation of many British Jews, the hardline Israeli government/AIPAC/Board of deputies of British Jews position is the only Jewish opinion presented. We will set aside for a moment (although we shouldn’t) the ignoring by the BBC of huge anti-Israeli protests in London and other major cities across the UK – including the occupation (now evicted) at Bristol attended by Messrs Loach and Thomas, and focus instead on the equally predictable ignoring of anti-war Jewish opinion.

One would think that in the interests of social cohesion and community harmony in Britain, at a time when anti-semitic attacks are on the rise, that the BBC would be keen to point up the plurality of Jewish opinion, but none of it.

We can wonder why the BBC behaves as it does, but the important thing to remember when considering this bias – and numerous other examples too numerous to list here – is that the corporation is in clear breach of its charter and its obligation to provide fair and balanced reporting. Other reasons why we should withhold the license fee will be published in the coming days, but the above is reason enough to hit Auntie in the only place it hurts. The pocket.

 21st Century Wire BBC Files



Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue
Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue