As Biased BBC notes, there are so many positive developments coming out of Israel, so many worthy discoveries, so many humanitarian initiatives, that Al Beeb could mention them once in a while. Things like:
Israel has sent another aid team to Haiti in the wake of the cholera outbreak that has killed over 200 people.
Amnon Yariv’s contributions to photonics and quantum electronics have profoundly impacted lightwave communications and the field of optics.
Scientists from the Haifa Technion have announced a new source of blood-derived biomarkers that can assist the early diagnosis and monitor progress of the treatment of cancer patients.
A product from Israeli start-up Wise Environment deflects cell phone radiation from your body and claims to reduce electromagnetic exposure for iPhone users by 98 percent.
I believe it was was Douglas Davis, the London correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, who sounded the first rousing blast of the trumpet against the BBC’s systematic bias against Israel. I well remember the searing cri de coeur that he contributed to The Spectator (25 May 2002), entitled "Why I won't talk to the BBC". It expressed so eloquently what so many supporters of Israel thought and felt (and think and feel). Mr Davis’s article so perfectly captures the essence of what was – and still is – objectionable about the BBC’s coverage of Israel, that it’s worth reminding ourselves of what he wrote. His article began:
“Would I, asked the BBC researcher who called from Radio Five Live last week, be available to appear on the Nicky Campbell programme the following morning?
`It should be very interesting,' she said, warming to her sales pitch. `We want to discuss whether Israel is a morally repugnant society.'
`Thanks, but no thanks.'
`You sure?' she asked, disbelief mingled with impatience.
`Absolutely positive. Absolutely,' I replied, to avoid any possible confusion. A moment's silence, then icily, `OK,' and the line went dead.”At first, South African-born Mr Davis had taken a phlegmatic view of Al Beeb’s stance:
“The BBC, in my experience, has always been critical of Israel. At times I have felt somewhat queasy by its coverage; on occasion, I have thought it downright unfair. But as an Israeli and a journalist I have defended its right to take a critical view of Israel, even an extremely critical view. After all, no one could accuse the Israeli media themselves of being tame. And besides, I subscribed to the cock-up rather than the conspiracy theory when it came to BBC coverage of the Middle East.
I argued that the Arab-Israel conflict, anchored in a heady mix of religious, territorial, political, social, economic and historic issues, presented an eye-crossing challenge to even the reasonably well-informed observer, let alone the neophyte from London intent on establishing a reputation in one of the world's media hot spots."However, the Rubicon had been crossed on 11 September 2001:
'Even as the Twin Towers came crashing down, the BBC was rushing in the first of a stream of studio analysts to solemnly intone, one after another, that it was racist to assume that Arabs or even Muslims were responsible. More likely, they chorused, it was the Mossad because such an event "played into Israeli hands."
But even if Arabs and Muslims had flown those planes, they said, was it not obvious that America itself was the real culprit? After all, it was America that was pursuing a pro- Israel foreign policy, dictated by the Jewish lobby; it was America that was ignoring the occupation and turning a blind eye to the settlements; it was America that was contemptuous of Arab sensibilities. Could anyone blame the Arabs for wanting to vent their humiliation, frustration and rage at this one-sided American foreign policy?
Apparently not. At least not at the BBC, which could not get enough of it. As I followed the events, I felt increasingly as though the rest of the world -- or at least that part of it which was inhabited by the BBC -- had gone stark, staring mad. Disbelief, it seemed, was suspended at Television Centre as logic was turned on its heads and victim became perpetrator. But far more shocking than the repeated ventilation of these bizarre views was the fact that they went virtually unchallenged by the BBC's usually robust interviewers.
Forget the apparently inconsequential fact that Israel had only a few months earlier offered to disgorge 97 per cent of the West Bank, grant the Palestinians a share in Jerusalem, permit a limited return of the refugees and recognise an independent Palestinian state (which no previous ruler in the area had ever done). Forget all that. In the Newspeak of the BBC, there was a direct, causal link between the attack on America and the occupation of the West Bank.
Did the BBC, which reaches into virtually every British living room, take a conscious policy decision to allow this arrant nonsense to become an established fact on its air waves? I doubt it. Rather, I believe, that the profound anti-Israel bias -- and now I am convinced that it does exist -- has, over the years, become ingrained in the BBC's corporate culture. Combine that with a massive dose of anti-Americanism and you have a combustible cocktail.
It is outside the range of my expertise to explain the behaviour of the BBC in this matter. On the face of it one might have expected a respected British institution to feel a sense of affinity with Israel, a Western, democratic state that shares common values, ideals and aspirations in a region where anti- democratic, despotic and corrupt regimes are the norm.
Perhaps a clinical psychiatrist could offer a cogent explanation of the causes and consequences of the BBC's extraordinary conduct. Or perhaps the answer is far simpler: a reflex reaction of the grown-up, new-left radicals from the Sixties who now occupy executive positions in the great offices of state.
I have a problem with the BBC's propensity to select and spin the news in order to reduce a highly complex conflict to a monochromatic, single-dimensional comic cut-out, whose well-worn script features a relentlessly brutal, demonically evil Ariel Sharon and a plucky, bumbling, misunderstood Yasser Arafat, the benign Father of Palestine in need of a little TLC (plus $50 million a month) from the West.
.... I parted company with the BBC over its systematic, hysterical advocacy of the most extreme Palestinian positions; an advocacy that has now transmogrified into a distorting hatred of a criminal Israel and, by extension, into a burgeoning hatred of Jews closer to home. It is astonishing that little more than half a century after the Holocaust, the BBC, guardian of liberalism and political correctness, should provide the fertile seedbed for the return of "respectable" anti-Semitism which finds expression not only in the smart salons of London but, according to the experts who monitor such phenomena, across the entire political spectrum, uniting the far-left with the centre and far-right.
It is astonishing, too, though perhaps no longer so surprising, that the Oxford University English professor and poet Tom Paulin should continue to star on BBC Television's weekly culture panel, despite his clarion call, published in the Cairo- based al-Ahram last month [April 2002], to kill Jewish settlers. One can only guess at the BBC's reaction if his remarks had been directed at British Asians rather than Israeli Jews.
I still receive a couple of calls a week from producers and researchers at the BBC - there is obviously a serious disconnect there somewhere - but they should know by now that I am no longer a candidate to make up the numbers in order to allow them to justify the injection of yet more poison into the national bloodstream.
Nor, as Nicky Campbell's researcher so sweetly asked, am I prepared to defend the legitimacy of Israel's existence - and, effectively, the legitimacy of my own existence as an Israeli and as a Jew. “