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, 16 December 2012

The BBC Not Biased Against Israel, Claims Jeremy Bowen

The BBC's "Middle East editor" Jeremy Bowen has been answering questions on Twitter again.

This time he was gracious enough to hold his hour-long Q&A session yesterday, not (as last time) on a day when observant Jews would be unable to participate.

Question from @24_Humza: Why is there lack of media coverage in regards to Israeli settlement buildings? seems to have disappeared now.
Jeremy answers: It comes in fits and starts. Issue doesn't change much and Middle East busy so settlements can't always be in spotlight. Israel Palestinian conflict still fundamental issue in Middle East and will make many more headlines, as Gaza crisis showed

Question from @cruachan8520: What and where has been your scariest moment?
Jeremy answers: Scariest place ever was Grozny winter of 1994/5. Worst day was when Israelis killed BBC fixer in Lebanon in 2000.

Question from @JackMendel4: Do you think a two-state solution is still a viable option?
Jeremy answers: Two-state solution viable if both sides want it. Hamas and Israeli government showing signs they don't.

And what of Fatah's attitude, given its new logo (seen above)?

Alas, Jezza doesn't tell us.

Here's a corker:

Question from @carolshorenye: BBC reports seem critical of Israel. Does the BBC recognise this bias and want to report more neutrally?
Jeremy answers: I don't think BBC is biased against Israel. Sometimes our reporting makes Israel's supporters uncomfortable

I've drawn the quoted comments above from the selection that the BBC has provided here

On his Twitter account itself we find this message:

Oliver Kamm ‏@OliverKamm@carolshorenye I agree with @BowenBBC. I am a columnist for the Jewish Chronicle. Don't recognise the complaint of anti-Israel bias at BBC.

Mr Kamm, it seems reasonable to point out, leans, like the prevailing ethos of the BBC, very much to the liberal left.  And according to his Wikipedia entry his mother is the sister of a famous former BBC journalist, none other than "the man in the white suit," Martin Bell.

Update: Here's Bowen reliving that "worst day" of his life; that incident introduces that video and there is a great deal about it later in the video:


  1. What he probably means is he doesn't hate Jews unless he's paid enough to.

    1. I e-mailed him several years ago re one of his broadcasts. He replied promptly and courteously, to give him his due. He defended the broadcast (I can't remember what it was about) and observed in passing, unsolicited, that he doesn't "hate" Israel. But I think the death of his Palestinian stringer has preyed so heavily on his mind that it's affected his attitude towards Israel and prejudiced his reportage - he frequently alludes to the incident and there is a video somewhere which shows it not once but twice, with him commenting about it and its effect on him.

  2. I am indifferent to people claiming to wear their hearts on their sleeve as an excuse to spout off antisemitic bigotries that go straight back a thousand years in the tradition of Europe. We're the ones who are supposed to feel THEIR pain? No. That's not going to happen. Not ever. I'll stack up any single one of the 20,000 pogroms and massacres against Bowen's singer and let's see who outweighs who.

  3. “Worst day was when Israelis killed BBC fixer in Lebanon in 2000.”

    Not surprising, Mr. Bowen was there in person.

    The incident Mr. Bowen refers to is when his (Palestinian) driver was killed by an Israeli tank on 23 May 2000 near Kibbutz Manara, when that tank’s crew mistakenly identifying the BBC crew as Hezbollah squad attempting to set up anti-tank rocket for firing when the (BBC) crew attempted to set up their cameras. Luckily for Mr. Bowen, he was some distance from the car when the tank fired thus he was not harmed.

    An ensuing IDF investigation cleared the tank crew of any wrongdoing under the prevailing circumstances and existing intelligence at the time (the tank crew sought and received permission to open fire in accordance with standing orders), it was nevertheless a case of mistaken identity.

    Although Israel admitted the error and apologised for the death, the BBC continues to maintain that Israel , knowingly and deliberately, targeted the BBC crew refusing to admit their own reckless contribution to being mistaken for Hezbollah, namely:

    1. They entered a *declared closed* military security zone near the Israeli Border with Lebanon, an area which was *known* to have high Hezbollah activity.

    2. There were no markings on the car whatsoever to indicate that it was a BBC or a TV crew for that matter.

    3. The crew appeared to wear civilian clothing (no “press” banner); it appears that Mr. Bowen does not like a bullet-proof vest or a “Press” banner – see a footage here that was taken in Lebanon 8 years later (nothing to do with Israel):

    4. It was in the early hours of the morning where the light condition was poor when they were spotted (they must have entered during darkness).

    Given the experience of Mr. Bowen in reporting from battlefields, such cavalier disregard to his own and the his crew’s safety brings me to conclude that there were more reasons for them being there than meets the eyes;

    Did they deliberately attempt to “blend-in” and avoid drawing attention to themselves, hence to the reason for them being there? If so, why and what? Did they coordinate their entry with the Hezbollah or worse, invited in by the Hezbollah for an impending “show”? Why were they attempted to set up the camera(s) in poor light condition when no good footage can be accomplished? These are only few of the questions I would have liked to ask hm.

    One thing I am certain of; the BBC crew were there for *a reason*, a reason that they will never admit to and why should they? They got their “story”, albeit not the one they had hoped for, whatever that was.

    1. Indeed, Jacob - here's a video Bowen narrates, showing footage

  4. Great comment btw - thanks, Jacob.

    1. Thanks Daphne,

      I watched the video in the link you provided above with interest, particularly the part that covers the death of Mr. Bowen’s driver.

      Towards the end (at about 45:56) there is captioned date “23 May 2000” (indeed the date of the incident) against a backdrop of cars with Hezbollah flags, V-signs and “Allah Akhbar” and Mr Bowen saying: “The people of South Lebanon were celebrating, the Israeli was ending an occupation that lasted 22 years ...”

      This is how history is rewritten!

      The Israel surprise announcement of its impeding withdrawal from South Lebanon came only the *next day* (24/5/2000) and the withdrawal was not completed until the early hours of the following day. It means that all the background footage shown in this docoganda, including how it looked from the Israeli side was taken on or after 25 May 2000, at least two days after Mr. Bowen’s driver was killed.

      In other words, the BBC and Mr. Bowen were *lying* big time in saying that the incident occurred after Israel withdrew from South Lebanon and that they (the film crew) went to that area to film the “proximity of the two sides”; sure, pigs can fly.

      (There are some other “inconsistencies” in the video which I will not bother you with here)

      It leaves my questions in my previous post still unanswered.

    2. Thanks for pointing that out, Jacob. Whenever you have time, I'd love to know what other inconsistencies you've spotted.

    3. I will Daphne, but it would take me a few days to come up with the results.

  5. I just stumbled upon this blog while reading about the responses to Michael Leunig's recent cartoon. I applaud you for maintain a continually-updated political blog, though as with most small operations there seems to be a fair amount of groupthink going on.

    On the BBC, you have to acknowledge that to critique is not to be "anti-Israel." Like "anti-American," it is a simplistic tag that does no justice to the depth of the debate. Mark Regev himself says, in the article which you decry, that human rights abuses such as the mistreatment of children must be brought to light, because they are absolutely unacceptable.

    In my limited experience of the BBC, I think it suffers from the broader problem in the western press of painting Israel as essentially "like us" (the neutral, mutable us that never fully declares itself or its values) while the Arabs are always radical, extreme and "not like us." This is why a rocket landing in an Israeli shopping mall injuring one triggers heart-wrenching affect in the Western viewer, while 12 dead in an Israeli air-strike often only merits a mention in the news bar. How can meaningful debate occur without acknowledgement of the equivalent humanity of the Other?

    At a more general level, all these quotes lining this website make no sense outside of the historically-developed persecution complex of Judaism. Now of course, this sense of being the eternal victim has grown up justifiably out of many centuries of anti-Semitism; however, this tradition of anti-Semitism is a European problem rooted in Christianity, not an Arab or a Muslim one. What happened after the Catholic Spaniards drove the Arabs out of Granada, after the Arabs had enlivened the Dark Ages by enriching and transferring the knowledge and ancient Greece and Rome? The Jews were expelled too, fleeing to Arab North Africa with the Muslims. Jews and Muslims have both been historically victimised by Chistian, European rulers.

    Has Europe changed? Only time will tell. The sense of injustice that many people see in Palestine is, I think, largely a result of Palestinians being made to pay for the crimes of Nazi Germany against the Jews and the indifference of the Catholic Church and much of Europe to their plight.

    Yet Israel now has the support of the powerful. There can be no peace until Israel takes the next step and negotiates with the concessional attitude that the most powerful party to negotiations should take. Then again, we have to question whether Likud is interested at all in peace with a two-state solution. Greater-Israel Zionism is the counter-part to Palestinian militantism, and at the moment they are playing into each other's hand, to the detriment of all the rest.

    1. Thanks for taking the trouble to comment, Chris. The essential fact about the BBC is that it should be strictly neutral, neither a partisan of one side or the other. As for the quotations in my sidebar, I make no apology for them.

    2. In my view, the problem with the narrative constructed by these quotations is Israel as a vanguard of individual rights and democracy, while simultaneously standing perpetually threatened, faced with viciousness and fundamentalism. As I've said, the consciousness of Israel as persecuted and vulnerable draws more on historical experience than present reality. In fact, Israel is currently very powerful, and along with its greatest ally, the USA, actively collaborates with vicious fundamentalist regimes in the region: Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain. The repressiveness and intolerance is not of these countries, but of their governments, which cannot be anything but undemocratic if they are to ensure the expropriation of countless billions in oil wealth for the benefit of western multinationals and domestic economies.

      If it were, as you say, a question of democracy and human rights, then why side with Wahhabi autocrats? Iran is not the only offender in the Middle East.

    3. Thanks again, Chris.
      It's a matter of the bad against the worst - Saudi Arabia might be bad but (while it hasn't recognised Israel) it hasn't threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Australia and other western democracies also have ties with Saudi Arabia - countries don't have the luxury of cherry-picking their allies. After all, the USA and Britain had an alliance with Stalin!

  6. hi Daphne, it's not new but this is still a tremendous reveal of press bias against Israel and does include BBC

  7. Should a man with such a grudge be directing reporting?


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