Thursday, September 14, 2006

Report on Panel Debate: Israel and the Media

I attended an interesting Panel Debate last night hosted by the American European Institute at Norris Lea Synagogue. Panelists included Melanie Phillips, Louise Ellman MP and Eric Moonman. There was a lot of implicit criticism (from both the audience and some panelists) of how 'organised Jewry' failed to argue Israel's case effectively during the recent war. There was pressure on the representatives from both the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation to defend themselves against the accusation of doing nothing (with the exception of the ludicorously misconceived ‘JFS Rally’ which was deservedly ridiculed by just about everyone). For the ZF Eric Moonman muttered on about all the ‘behind the scenes work’ being done around the clock and also made a bizarre statement about how ‘quality’ newspapers like the Times did not publish biased or inaccurate articles (what planet is he living on - he should take a look at some of the cases like this that I have documented previously on this blog). But the most ridiculous comment of the night came from Vivian Wiseman of the Board of Deputies; when challenged to provide examples of specific things the Board had done to address the media assault on Israel he clearly struggled to think of one but then came up with a single example which, bizarrely, was the BBC interview with Smadar Haran. He did not say what ZF’s claimed role was, if any, in setting up the interview but he stated that this was an example of how they had helped Israel get its case across. He clearly was unaware that this turned out to be an example of exactly the opposite, namely the BBC cynically finding a way to ensure that the Hezbollah terrorists got their view across instead (as revealed on my blog and followed up by Honest Reporting)

Notwithstanding the fact that the ZF and Board of Deputies were confirmed to have been pretty useless during the War, the event suggested that there are a lot of people sufficiently angry at the media lies to be motivated now to do something about it. There were also some interesting anecdotes. Shmuel Ben Tovin told the story of a friend who wanted to book a holiday in Dubai and phoned the UAE embassy to ask if it was OK to bring his girlfriend who was black. The embassy person ridiculed his friend for even thinking that it might be a problem given their determination to make Dubai the number one holiday destination. But then the friend said that his girlfriend was a black Israeli originally from Ethiopia. At this point the Embassy person was silent before hanging up the phone.

Another interesting discussion point during the evening was the role now played by NGO’s like Christian Aid, Save the Children and War on Want in demonizing Israel. I believe there is actually something very simple people can do about this and it is related to Ben Tovin’s story. A lot of these charities ran campaigns during the war asking for money for the suffering refugees/children in Lebanon and Gaza. I rang all these charity hotlines to offer a donation on the condition that it went to the suffering/displaced children in Israel (incidentally the Red Cross was one notable exception in that they explicitly included Israel in their appeal). The responses I got were quite amazing. The people I spoke to were never hostile in any way but were simply ignorant. They had no idea that there were any people suffering in Israel during the war. Interestingly, although I always left my number for somebody more ‘senior’ to call me back to clarify why Israel was excluded from the Appeal I never got a single call back. The point I am making is that if 500 people made similar calls it might at least have an impact.

Monday, September 11, 2006

If 9/11 was reported the way the media reports attacks on Israel

I wrote this on a previous anniversary of 9/11.

Let’s look at how that day’s events might have been reported by the BBC, CNN or the Guardian if they used the same approach as they used to reporting terrorist attacks against Israel.

Headline to story: “Thousands of Arabs and Americans killed in day of tit-for-tat violence on east coast of America”

The cycle of violence in America reached a new crescendo today when a series of violent incidents left thousands dead. The dead are believed to include many Arab civilians and a number of American military personnel. Al Jaziera has revealed that many of the Arabs killed were refugee children who had fled from oppression. Although an American spokesman claimed that they too suffered “many civilian deaths”, this has been denied by the Al Quaeda organisation.

The violence started when a member of a group of five unarmed Arab civilians, who boarded a 767 aircraft in Boston, was refused permission to fly the plane, despite having a valid flying licence. The American authorities have been imposing increasingly tight restrictions on the freedom of movement of Arab civilians within the US. This humiliation to their dignity has created, not unsurprisingly, deep anger and resentment among even moderate Arabs. When the fully qualified pilot was denied the opportunity to work in his chosen profession, he became angry. It is reported that the outnumbered Arab men engaged in fighting with members of the crew, but what really happened next may never be known. What is certain is that all of the five Arabs were killed, along with the plane’s other occupants (believed to be primarily military and intelligence personnel) when the plane crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center. Al Jaziera quickly confirmed that the building housed many Arab refugee children, who were all killed in the attack along with a number of Muslim workers. A number of illegal American immigrants dressed as businessmen may also have perished.

As news of the Arab civilian deaths became known, it is believed that Arab civilians on another aircraft reacted with understandable passion, battling with military and security personnel. This plane soon crashed into the south tower of the Word trade center. After this second crash the US military ordered an unprecedented grounding of all civilian flights over US airspace, thus denying all Arabs living in the US the right to travel. On hearing news of this attack on their livelihood a group of Arab militants mounted a daring tit-for-tat strike. With nothing else to lose, and in sheer desperation, the militants crashed the plane they were travelling in into the very heart of the US military machine – the Pentagon, killing scores of soldiers. In an escalation of the violence the US military responded by threatening to shoot down any airplane still flying that was piloted by Arabs. This led to the final, and most outrageous act of violence of the day, committed by a group of self-styled American vigilantes aboard flight 93 to San Francisco. On learning that their airplane was being flown by Arab pilots, the Americans took it upon themselves to massacre all the Arabs on board. In the ensuing struggle the Arab pilot was savagely killed and the plane crashed into a field, killing all the occupants, many of whom are believed to have been Arab refugee children. The US military is likely to have to accept full responsibility for the final massacre, since they had given messages to the passengers on board flight 93 that the Arab pilots were planning to crash the plane into the White House, even though no proof of such a wild claim had been presented to the United Nations. The French and German leaders have already demanded a UN enquiry into the massacre.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

BBC's disgraceful conduct in Israel

Remarkably few people know that the key prisoner that Hezbollah seeks to release from Israel is Samir Kuntar who is guilty of one of the most despicable terrorist acts in history - he killed the family of Smadar Haran including her 4 year-old daughter by smashing her head against a rock - and who has never expressed remorse for it. I have written about this before and there is plenty of information on the internet about it (see here for example). It just so happens that a colleague of mine in Israel is a good friend of Smadar Haran. While I was in Israel in August he told me the following story that exposes the BBC as a corrupt terrorist-loving anti-semitic organisation (Smadar Haran has read this text and has approved it being published here):

At the end of July Smadar Haran was contacted by the BBC to ask if she was prepared to be interviewed for her views about the Lebanon war (which were presumably of general interest because of the stated Hezbullah intention to secure the release of Kuntar). She eventually agreed to the interview which was to take place at the Dan Accadia Hotel in Herzlia. When she arrived there the interviewer informed her that immediately prior to her own interview (which was to be shown live) the BBC was going to interview Kuntar's brother Basem Kuntar in Lebanon. Not suprisingly Smadar was not at all happy with this 'set-up' as the BBC had had ample time to let her know this beforehand. Still, as she had made the effort to come to the interview she reluctantly agreed to continue with it. Basem Quntar's interview took place in full and then the BBC switched to the interview with Smadar. But seconds into the interview the production team were told that the interview had to stop because of 'technical issues'. The BBC team at the hotel could not understand this as there had never before been 'technical' issues to stop doing such an interview. So the BBC ran an interview with the terrorist's brother but 'for technical reasons' were unable to provide an interview with the terrorist's victim.

What is almost certain of course is that the BBC never intended to interview the terrorist's victim but only ever wanted to interview the terrorist's brother. This was their despicable way of getting away with such a ploy while being able to claim 'even-handedness'.

Smadar Haran wanted to make the following additional comments about the 'interview':
  1. "I want to mention that after describing the killer's actions, I felt a kind of mockery from the reporter saying: We have just heared a graphic description of the murder which was brought by Mrs. Haran...
  2. A Short time after, the producer called and said that he has received many angry mails from listeners who were not willing to accept all this kind of behaviour.
  3. When I have called the Israeli Foreign Office for consulting, the response I got was that this is a typical and everyday behaviour of the BBC ."