True, an alternate viewpoint provides the balanced reportage that Al Beeb is obligated by its Charter to provide yet conspicuously lacks, especially regarding the Middle East. But to quote not one but two pundits (in addition to politicians) who contradict Hague weights the scales well away from equilibrium and smacks of deliberate propagandising.
Indeed, Al Beeb has turned for comment to a seemingly archetypal FCO Arabist, former Ambassador to Iran Sir Richard Dalton, who retired from the Diplomatic Service in 2006 and became an associate of Chatham House, specialising in the Middle East and North Africa.
From 1993-97 he was Britain's consul-general in Jerusalem. In 1994 the then mayor of that city, Ehud Olmert, slammed as "apartheid" his plans, reflecting British policy, to hold separate Jewish and Arab functions in celebration of the Queen's birthday. Mr Dalton, as he was at the time, was quoted in The Times as saying: "The real problem is the use of Israeli power in Jerusalem." (Jewish Chronicle, 17 July 1994)
Following three years as Britain's ambassador to Libya, Sir Richard became ambassador to Iran, which had refused to accept in that post fluent Farsi-speaker and Iran-expert David Reddaway on the erroneous assumption that he was a Jew (with links to MI6 for good measure).
In November 2009 Sir Richard appeared in Peter Oborne's notorious Dispatches programme on British TV Channel 4, "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby".
Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland – a frequent critic of Israeli policy who hardly merits the term rabid Zionist – noted in the Jewish Chronicle (27 November 2009) that Dalton was
'one of the star turns on this month's Dispatches probe into the pro-Israel lobby. If that programme played with a few of the most time-honoured tropes – a shadowy group of rich Jews pulling the strings of powerless politicians – than Dalton helpfully played on a few more.'Freedland quoted Dalton as follows:
Commented Freedland sarcastically:"What's unique about the pro-Israel lobbies is that they have good access to politicians, often operate behind the scenes and have primary regard – even though they may come from Britain – not for the interests of the British people but for a mixture of what they see as British interests and the interests of another country." [My emphasis]
'Powerful, secretive, unpatriotic, and with allegiance to a foreign power – all in a single sentence! Give that man a prize for sheer economy of language.'Sir Richard, who spoke in the recent debate at the Cambridge Union in support of the motion "This House Would Rather Have A Nuclear Iran Than War", is quoted on the Al Beeb website thus:
"There are many signs, as reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, that some research and development relevant to the development of nuclear weapons may still be going on.
But it is wrong to say that Iran is rushing towards having a nuclear weapon.
Indeed, the analysis published to the United States Congress by the top intelligence assessors there indicates that Iran has not taken a decision to have a nuclear weapon."And despite signs that the regime of the mullahs, and Ahmadinejad himself, believes that strife and mayhem is a necessary prelude to the coming of the Twelfth Imam, young Shashank Joshi of the Royal United Services Institute has this phlegmatic message, which Al Beeb includes near the beginning of the same report:
"If we could live with nuclear weapons in the hands of totalitarian, genocidal states like Stalin's Russia or Mao's China, Iran in contrast – whatever its repulsive internal policies and adventurism abroad – is far more rational."Rational?!
Ah, happy daze!