Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wishing doesn't make it so, even when it's the BBC doing it

At a time when Rupert Murdoch and his proxies (such as the Conservative party) are devoting so much energy to dissing the BBC, first of all I'd like to say that I'm a big fan; that I don't in the least object to paying a license fee or any other homologated tax in order to preserve its relative independence from commercial pressure; and that whatever some right-wing Americans might have you believe, most of the world thinks it's awesome.

However, as this article from 2008 documents beautifully, it does have a systemic tendency to to promote the Israeli Government's line on Middle Eastern (or West Asian if you don't live in Britain or the US) affairs and to sideline Palestinian considerations. I wish I could say that things have improved, but only a month or so back there was an article in the Radio Times promoting Kate Humble's Frankincense Trail series, in which with no irony at all her visit to Bethlehem was reported under a heading "Israel". (Ha! you wish.) I wasn't alone in picking this up, and I was glad to see that they issued an apology the following week. But there are some gaffes for which an apology isn't quite sufficient. Suppose the Radio Times had published a piece referring to Hitler's "alleged" murder of six million Jews, and (after much protest from its readers) had simply apologised for the error and pointed out that he did in fact murder them. Nobody, I imagine, would feel that that was an adequate defence against a charge of casual anti-Semitism: so let us not imagine that the tiny apology buried in the Radio Times in any way negates the thesis that the BBC generally supports the Israeli occupation. Its disgraceful treatment of Jeremy Bowen, its principal correspondent in the region, and its refusal to carry a charity appeal for humanitarian aid to Gaza in the aftermath of Israel's attacks, make that bias very clear. Here is an excellent article by Robert Fisk on the Bowen scandal.

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