Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday 8 August 2010

The Man Who Begat a Multitude - of anti-Israel BBC presenters

The anti-Israel bias of the BBC - Al Beeb as it's consequently often dubbed - needs no introduction from me. It has been systematically documented - in a series of reports by the lawyer Trevor Asserson, who  runs the website BBC Watch, by Honest Reporting, by Tom Gross, and by the Biased BBC blog, for example.  It has also, presumably, been proven in a report the BBC commissioned from employee Malcolm Balen -  why else would the licence-funded "national broadcaster" suppress Balen's findings and furiously fight attempts via legal channels to force it to release his report?  No doubt Al Beeb hoped Balen would exonerate it from charges of bias against Israel, and didn't like what he had to say.

Al Beeb's Barbara Plett, who shed on-air tears for Arafat upon his impending death; Alan Johnston, the Gaza correspondent kidnapped by "militants" in 2007 and awarded an Amnesty International prize, immediately following his release, for his pro-Palestinian radio reports; the repugnant Orla Guerin; the seemingly incorrigible Jeremy Bowen (pictured, near Johnston's photo on a placard, during a show of solidarity by BBC staff with their kidnapped colleague) - these have been or are among the worst offenders. Their partisan reportage (together with such prejudiced online items as Bowen's "diary", which he posted on the BBC News website during Operation Cast Lead)  is truly despicable in an organisation which is obliged, by its Charter and its Producers' Guidelines, to be strictly neutral.  Yet BBC employees have been judges on journalistic awards given out by Amnesty International (a controversial organisation these days, and certainly one not particularly enamoured of Israel).  Even if the BBC employees concerned have the best of motives, in my view this involvement is not in keeping with impartiality.

Usually, Al Beeb disdainfully dismisses complaints by members of the public regarding its bias. It doesn't always bother to respond, even if a response has been specifically requested. So long as there is no independent body to arbitrate complaints, it will continue to behave in this unacceptable manner, for - shockingly - it handles all complaints itself.  Last April, however, the BBC Trust rebuked Bowen for aspects of his coverage.  But when accepting a journalism award in London in June he declared: "The BBC Trust accused me, wrongly in my view, of some inaccuracies in my reporting.  They did that because of a rather nasty campaign group in the United States and some highly politically-motivated individuals in this country who were in fact the enemies of impartiality, but they got their thoughts through."  In other words, folks, "The Lobby". And he's proved since that it's business as usual - did you catch his insinuating reference to "rich Jews" the other day in a broadcast, by the way?  (hat tip: Biased BBC).

We're all pretty familiar with BBC bias.  But when did the BBC let slip the scrupulous objectivity demanded of it, and which once made it a respected organisation trusted round the world?  Being an historically minded gal I decided to try to find out. And I believe I may have discovered the individual who began the BBC's downward spiral into biased reporting, at least as far as news about Israel and the Middle East is concerned. 

Step forward the shade of Keith Kyle (1925-2007), a Liberal-turned-Labourite who later joined the SDP, and stood unsuccessfully for Parliament several times.  Kyle seems to have been the first BBC broadcaster to flout the neutrality incumbent upon the BBC when, during the tension leading up to the Six Day War, he opined that "fundamentally in this dispute the Arabs are completely in the right.  There can be no question about this at all."  These words were also printed in the 1 June 1967 issue of The Listener, a BBC publication.

Shortly after Israel's stunning victory, the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) was set up in London in order to coordinate Arab and pro-Arab opinion in the UK.  Its leading parliamentary supporters were Tory MP and Suez rebel Anthony Nutting (in 1956, when Nutting was Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anthony Eden had mentioned "the anti-Jewish spleen of you people in the Foreign Office") and Labour MP Christopher Mayhew, both inveterate foes of Israel.  Funded by Arab governments, CAABU could afford a secretariat, and its director was Michael Adams, who had worked for the BBC early in his career but had later joined the Guardian.  It was owing to his articles in that paper that a columnist in the Jewish Chronicle (30 June 1967) observed: "It is with a sinking feeling and eventually turning stomach that one examines the Guardian each morning." (That writer would certainly vomit daily if he read the Guardian nowadays!)

     One of CAABU's first actions had been to send Adams, while he was still employed by the Guardian, on a funded trip to the Middle East, from whence he sent a series of articles biased against Israel.  The Guardian had printed them without explaining that they had been subsidised by Arab money.  There was also a despatch from Cairo which talked of the "forcible expulsion across the burning desert of Palestinian Arabs to Gaza".  In fact, those deportees were members of the Palestine Liberation Army and a threat to Israel's security, as the Guardian grudgingly acknowledged the next day.  Adams also used the offensive term "final solution" to describe Israeli policy.

It was shortly after this that Adams became CAABU's director. The Guardian continued to offend.  In August it carried an advertisement from an Arab source that made "untrue and repulsive allegations about Israel's treatment of Arab civilians in the occupied territories" and in a report alleged the "collective shooting of civilians" by Israeli troops in the occupied territories as well as the discovery of "mass graves".  Yet overall it seems that with Adams's departure, and that of  leader writer Frank Edmead, the Guardian's coverage of Israel became more evenhanded - until it descended again into the travesty of truth and fair play that is its hallmark today.

The BBC's Keith Kyle was not slow to identify openly with CAABU.  He was a keynote speaker at one of its first major rallies.  The Jewish Chronicle (29 November 1968) noted "the intense anti-Jewish feeling generated in the CAABU audience - and among some of the speakers - by the very existence of the Jewish State, referred to as the Zionist State" as well as the way pro-Israel Jewish questioners were mocked and shouted down.

One of the worst features of Kyle's pro-Arab stance (apart from its infringement of the BBC Charter, of course) concerned the hijacking of an El Al aircraft at Zurich in February 1969.  Through his Arab contacts he had learned of the plan, but had not disclosed the information "to avoid Israeli retaliation against it".

In the same year he presented a series of programmes on the Middle East highly slanted against Israel and replete with gratuitous comments of his own.  Aghast, a  Jewish Chronicle columnist (9 May 1969) observed: "The casual viewer will doubtless have been fooled into believing that the Israeli occupation of Arab territories is barbaric and ruthless."

And that summer, on the BBC's Panorama, Michael Adams spewed out vitriol about "nation-wide and even world-wide Jewish pressure" - in other words, a certain lobby. 

In one of his platform appearances Adams - foreshadowing the avoidance by Al Beeb and the Guardian of the T-word - rhetorically enquired why the British press referred to "Arab terrorists": 'I can't remember calling members of the resistance in Nazi-occupied France "terrorists"', he continued.  (In 1999 his son, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Paul Adams, used the prescribed Al Beeb term "Islamic militants" of suicide bombers.  It was Paul Adams, when diplomatic correspondent, who in 2007 appeared to admit to BBC bias when he described Alan Johnston's job as "to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament in the Gaza Strip".)

As for Kyle, he became prominently associated with the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA; Chatham House) and wrote tendentious books on Suez and on Israel.  In 1983, when membership secretary of the RIIA, he invited as speaker Dr Israel Shahak, chairman of the so-called (and miniscule) Israel League for Human and Civil Rights, who had authored a book containing this odious assertion: "In the Jewish State, only the Jews are considered human.  Non-Jews have the status of beasts."

Perhaps we should not be too surprised that Kyle's obituary in the Guardian (27 February 2007) declared that Kyle "would have made a wise foreign secretary".


  1. It would be interesting to see if any present British Journalists with the Guardian and BBC are were formally paid by Arabs/Muslim governments or organisations. We see something of this trend in reverse with Ken Livingstone now working for Holocaust denying Iranian Press TV.

  2. And that oddball Lib Dem MP, Lembit Opik, who was unseated at the May General Election, has been hired by Press TV to present a show called "A Simple Question", which will investigate how objective the news media is in the UK!!!
    One of his assistants told the London "Daily Telegraph": "We want to explore whether it does a good job at keeping impartial or whether there are consistent cases of bias in the reporting that we see."
    (This, asked by Press TV!!! The mind boggles!)

  3. Zionism is NOT Judaism. Christopher Mayhew and Michael Adams's "Publish it not" demonstrating dispositively Zionist control of the media before 1974 transformed me from a Zionist to an anti-Zionist. The scales fell from my eyes when I read it. Were Daphne Anson, 'Anonymous' and their like to read it they might waken to the fact of how dangerous their blinkered bigotry is.

  4. Thank you. All comments are welcome - as long as they're not defamatory or obscene.
    The love of Zion, the yearning for restoration to Zion, is integral to Judaism.
    It is certainly not the remit of the BBC to be pushing the propaganda of Adams, Mayhew - or anybody else, for that matter.

  5. Reuven ben Zeev9 August 2010 at 02:29

    I would point 'Anonymous' to an article written in the JC by Professor Geofrrey Alderman rebutting Mohammed Asif, chief executive of Engage who ignorantly attempted to stop Jewish Schools' support for Zionism.

    As Daphne says, Zionism is integral to Jewish thought, prayer and belief, and has been for 3000 years. Any attempt to disengage Zionism from Judaism is inherently flawed and often either anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic or both in that it it part of a narrative which seeks to portray Zionism as a colonialist enterprise.

    Chris Mayhew was the prototypical left-wing Arabist antisemite that we now see dressed up as anti-Zionist.

    I suggest Anonymous read a little more widely and start with any Authorised Daily Prayer Book used by the United Synagogue in which he/she will find that Zionism is very much Judaism or, rather, Judaism is based firmly and inextricably in Zionism.

    Anyone who says that Zionists control the media is antisemitic, deluded and a thoroughly nasty specimen to boot. Dreaming up Jewish influence of the media to discredit those who report anything that shows Israel or Jews in a positive light is the daily diet of every 2-bit antisemite, white supremacist, islamofascist and Marxist BS-er.

  6. Many thanks for that comment Reuven. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    On a different note, I've been asked why the BBC has no Hebrew broadcasting service.
    It did begin a Hebrew service in 1949, but it struggled to find an audience since - to Israel's credit - there was (as there still is) a free press in that country. The service broadcast as little as 30 minutes per day, and there were reception difficulties caused by its wavelength.
    Nevertheless, when the British Foreign Office announced closure of the Hebrew service in 1968, the "Jewish Chronicle" pointed out that the Hebrew service could have been switched to medium wave and relayed from Cyprus like the BBC's World and Arabic services; the JC agreed with widespread perceptions that fear of Arab objections was the reason the FO did not pursue that option.

  7. Well Daphne I refer to my last comments to you, bring on a FOX NEWS type channel I'm sure MR.Murdoch would be only too pleased to oblige. My relations in the States say it's a great success. They cannot believe how anti the BBC really is.

  8. Steve, as I often say, I can't understand why Mrs Thatcher didn't privatise the BBC!
    The ABC, Australia's equivalent to the BBC (it's government funded, but not through a licence fee) used to be similarly leftist and anti-American and anti-Israel (the whole familiar package). Prime Minister John Howard cleared out that particular augean stable by replacing its board, and consequently the ABC is much less biased against Israel than it used to be.

  9. Incidentally, just as the Guardian, in 1967, failed to mention that Michael Adams's series of Israel-bashing reports was the result of a CAABU-funded trip, so the Guardian in January 2003 failed to mention that Tim Llewellyn, who wrote an anti-Israel piece was an executive member of CAABU. (They got around to admitting it two days later, when someone blew the whistle.)
    Tim Llewellyn was for many years the BBC's Middle East correspondent. He's another rabid detractor of Israel.
    It seems there's a nexus between CAABU, Al Grauniad and Al Beeb.

  10. "It seems there's a nexus between CAABU, Al Grauniad and Al Beeb."

    Steady on Daphers, old gel, you are are awfully close to revealing the terrible truth that is 'the Elders of Albion', which is a shady cabal behind the institutions you mention.

  11. "Zionism is NOT Judaism. Christopher Mayhew and Michael Adams's "Publish it not" demonstrating dispositively Zionist control of the media before 1974 transformed me from a Zionist to an anti-Zionist. The scales fell from my eyes when I read it. Were Daphne Anson, 'Anonymous' and their like to read it they might waken to the fact of how dangerous their blinkered bigotry is."

    -A few points about this comment;

    1. He seems to acknowledge that today's media (he says since '74) is not "zionist."

    2. He doesn't state why a "zionist" media (which doesn't exist anyway in the UK) is dangerous like he claims.

    3. He relies on one book. I could find books stating any fact I wanted eg that the Earth is flat (as a large school of Islam actually still argues eg but this doesn't mean its right.

    4. He doesn't prove how "zionism isn't judaism." Love of Jerusalem and Zion are a central tenet of Judaism, whereas Jerusalem is mentions in the Koran 0 times.

  12. Thanks, Ray and latest Anon, for your comments.

    Since Michael Adams was a senior staff member at the University of Exeter in his later years, I would not be surprised if he was instrumental in getting Ilan Pappe his job at that institution.
    The gradual infiltration of people of Pappe's extreme views into academic departments, even Jewish Studes ones, at universities in the UK is an ominous development.

  13. Another former BBC presenter (on Panorama, specialising in the Middle East) is Alan Hart, who is trotted out from time to time on Press TV, Iran's propaganda channel.
    Hart describes Zionism as a "colonial enterprise" that "has corrupted everything it touched", has written "the Zionist State has no right to exist" (this in a letter to David Cameron in 2007), and - despicably and notoriously - believes that 9/11 was a Zionist plot. He insists that "the twin towers were brought down by a controlled ground explosion" and that - you've guessed it! - Mossad was responsible!
    I'm not suggesting that all BBC anti-Israel presenters are as loopy as that, but it is worth noting!


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