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Sunday, June 03, 2007

What if Israel had kidnapped Alan Johnston?

There's a great piece in Saturday's London Daily Telegraph that asks us to indulge in an intellectual exercise: What if Israel had kidnapped Alan Johnston? (Hat Tip: Power Line via Daled Amos):
Watching the horrible video of Alan Johnston of the BBC broadcasting Palestinian propaganda under orders from his kidnappers, I found myself asking what it would have been like had he been kidnapped by Israelis, and made to do the same thing the other way round.

The first point is that it would never happen. There are no Israeli organisations - governmental or freelance - that would contemplate such a thing. That fact is itself significant.

But just suppose that some fanatical Jews had grabbed Mr Johnston and forced him to spout their message, abusing his own country as he did so. What would the world have said?

There would have been none of the caution which has characterised the response of the BBC and of the Government since Mr Johnston was abducted on March 12. The Israeli government would immediately have been condemned for its readiness to harbour terrorists or its failure to track them down.

Loud would have been the denunciations of the extremist doctrines of Zionism which had given rise to this vile act. The world isolation of Israel, if it failed to get Mr Johnston freed, would have been complete.

If Mr Johnston had been forced to broadcast saying, for example, that Israel was entitled to all the territories held since the Six-Day War, and calling on the release of all Israeli soldiers held by Arab powers in return for his own release, his words would have been scorned. The cause of Israel in the world would have been irreparably damaged by thus torturing him on television. No one would have been shy of saying so.

But of course in real life it is Arabs holding Mr Johnston, and so everyone treads on tip-toe.


Throughout Mr Johnston's captivity, the BBC has continually emphasised that he gave "a voice" to the Palestinian people, the implication being that he supported their cause, and should therefore be let out. One cannot imagine the equivalent being said if he had been held by Israelis.

Well, he is certainly giving a voice to the Palestinian people now. And the truth is that, although it is under horrible duress, what he says is not all that different from what the BBC says every day through the mouths of reporters who are not kidnapped and threatened, but are merely collecting their wages.

The language is more lurid in the Johnston video, but the narrative is essentially the same as we have heard over the years from Orla Guerin and Jeremy Bowen and virtually the whole pack of them.

It is that everything that is wrong in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world is the result of aggression or "heavy-handedness" (have you noticed how all actions by American or Israeli troops are "heavy-handed", just as surely as all racism is "unacceptable"?) by America or Israel or Britain.
The Telegraph goes on to tie the BBC's reporting on Johnston's kidnapping to the decision last week by Britain's Universities and Colleges Union that its members "consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions." It goes without saying that the British union's decision to boycott Israeli institutions - the only ones in the entire Middle East that don't discriminate based on religion or ethnicity (and in fact, there is reverse discrimination here in favor of the Arabs to an extent that far exceeds "affirmative action" in the US - but that is a subject for another post) - is rank hypocrisy and worse. I'll have more on that later.

As far as Johnston goes, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web hit it on the head:
"What's grimly humorous about this is that the BBC is so anti-Israeli, anti-American and even anti-British that unlike in most hostage situations, there is ample reason to doubt Johnston's insincerity."
That's funny. I said that.


At 11:53 AM, Blogger rabbi sedley said...

Great post! You've taken a good Telegraph article (which is rare) and made it better.
No wonder nobody is upset with the message that Mr Johnston said while held at gunpoint by his kidnappers - as you point out it is the same as the message he was broadcasting until now of his own free will.
Will they ever learn?


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