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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ignoring inconvenient truths

Robin Shepherd, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person this past summer at the World Jewish Congress, takes the BBC to task for ignoring three recent stories that shed light on who is responsible for the Middle East impasse: The survey that showed that 60% of 'Palestinians' view a 'Palestinian state' as a stepping stone to replacing Israel, the 'Palestinian study' that denied the Jewish connection to the Western Wall (let alone the Temple Mount), and the three no's of Ramallah. None of these stories was reported by the BBC, and Shepherd thinks he knows why.
Now think about that for a moment. Here you have the building blocks of an immensely convincing argument that the core problem in this conflict is with the Palestinians and not with the Israelis. As the whole world is pressing the two sides towards peace talks, we have clear evidence that one of those sides is putting up insurmountable obstacles to a successful outcome. In other words, it’s obviously news worthy. If anything along such lines had been reported from the Israeli side there is no question whatsoever that it would have received saturation coverage, and rightly so.

But since the evidence casts the Palestinians in a less than flattering light, it is totally ignored. The British public, and the BBC’s tens of millions of viewers, readers and listeners around the world, are just not getting the information they need on this conflict to form a rounded judgement. It is deliberate censorship.

I know I have said all this before. But it consistently bears repeating since the role of the media, and particularly the ubiquitous BBC, in public perceptions about Israel and Palestinians is clearly vital. When it comes to this conflict the prejudices against one party, namely Israel, are so deeply entrenched that what emerges is much less like traditional journalism than the agitprop of political activism.

The BBC needs to be made aware that this is against their own charter and also makes a mockery of a once great institution’s claim to be taken seriously. In the meantime just pass stories like this around to as many people as you can. If an appeal to basic journalistic standards won’t make them mend their ways, perhaps an appeal to their sense of shame will. It’s always worth a try.
I wonder if it's possible to do more than that. Maybe some British readers can comment on the feasibility. As I understand it, the BBC is supported by a tax on television ownership, just like Israel's state-owned media (another unfortunate legacy we have from the British Mandate). What if there were an organized campaign not to pay the tax? Here, the tax is a separate item (because people who don't own TV's don't have to pay it). Is that true in Britain? Can the British government be hit with another protest against taxation without representation? Just asking. Check the comments to see if it would work.

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At 11:44 AM, Blogger Eliyahu in Shilo said...

I've been told by English friends, that unlike here in Israel, they vigorously enforce the tax. According to my friend, they drive around with TV detectors and if you haven't paid the tax and they get a signal, you get fined and have you TV confiscated.

Any UK readers, please correct me if I'm wrong.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

After looking at Zochronot, an anti-Zionist website's glossy new online book calling for Israel's destruction, its obvious such views are financed by European governments and NGOs. Really, how could a book with such extreme views have much impact in a country where very few Jews subscribe to them? I bet it comes in the end from the same place that prefers to overlook the fact the Palestinians reject any peace that includes acceptance of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people in our lifetime.


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