Tony Greenstein | 15 May 2012 | Post Views:

Follow my example – Don’t Finance the BBC – Don’t Pay the Licence Fee

‘Administrative Detention’  Won’t Be Renewed – Solitary Confinement to End

Lord Patten, Chair of the BBC Trustees, was a patron of Medical Aid for Palestine.  However his charitable works didn’t extend to politics and removing BBC bias against the Palestinians
Brighton PSC picket at time of attack on Gaza

Mark Thompson, the BBC’s £800,000 a year Chairman refused to allow a DEC Charity Appeal for the Starving of Gaza

One of the more democratic aspects of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ has been the way Israel uses imprisonment without trial.  In Ireland they used to call it ‘internment’.  Those who lead the non-violent opposition are liable to be lifted in the middle of the night, beaten up and transferred to a detention facilitity, denied access to a lawyer, tortured a little more and then placed in front of a military judge eventually (still shackled) who is told that whilst the State has the evidence, they can’t show any of it for fear of undermining Israel’s security (a far more important thing than the lives of the oppressed).

The Military Judge then ratifies (in 99.7% of cases) the arrest and orders further detention of the accused.  It doesn’t matter if they are a child, after all Palestinian children are just terrorists who are growing up.

Nearly thousand Palestinians were on hunger strike, including Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla,l who were close to death.  Contrary to the twisted and perverted interpretation of Israeli government ghoul, Mark Regev, who used to be a devoted supporter of Apartheid when he lived in South Africa, anyone who died would have committed suicide as opposed to being murdered by a state which seized them without any lawful authority.  Not that they were fooling anyone bar the BBC.

BBC Dilemma – How to Report the Aftermath of a Hunger Strike You Refused to Cover

Last night’s BBC 24 News faced a dilemma.  How do you report a hunger strike that you have deliberately refused to publicise?  The BBC, always the good and faithful servant of the rich and powerful, is an adamantly pro-Zionist media group.  It is not only no different from Fox TV it is worse.  No one believes Fox is independent, millions have such illusions in the BBC.

The answer to their dilemma was simple.  Reach for the murderers’ accomplice, Mark Regev.  Whereas the BBC persistently fail to interview Palestinians or the prisoners’ families, the oppressed, they have no hesitation in interviewing the spokesman for their murderers and jailors.

It’s as if the BBC had had a camera unit outside Auschwitz and instead of interviewing the inmates asked Rudolph Hoess, the camp commandant, if he’d like comment on allegations that people were being put to death with gas.  This would be the BBC idea of ‘balance’ – you balance the murderer and torturer with the victim.

Actually it’s worse.  The BBC interviews the murderer and his/her accomplice whilst refusing to interview the people oppressed by them.

The BBC is run by a thick Zionist – and Mark Thompson is nothing if not thick – who is married to a Zionist.  Thompson was brought in to take over as Director-General of the BBC from Greg Dyke, in the wake of the Hutton Report, a whitewash conducted by former Northern Ireland and Unionist judge, Lord Hutton.  Hutton it was who regularly defended members of the security services found to have beaten up or killed Catholics.  It was to him that the task fell of pillorying the BBC for having allowed its Defence Correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, to accuse the Blair Government of having ‘sexed up’ its infamous dodgy dossier accusing the Iraq government of having WMD.

The BBC learnt its lesson.  For the past 8 years it hasn’t so much as said boo to a government goose.  The BBC has resumed its role as the faithful servant of whichever government is in power.  The time when Lord Tebbit would criticise it for its coverage of the US bombing of Tripoli is long gone.
BBC – Always Hostile to the Oppressed and Workers

But the BBC’s hostility to the Palestinians is not unique.  When Apartheid was at its height, the BBC religiously covered the Springbok’s cricket tour.  The fact that only Whites were allowed to play was irrelevant.  You got not an inkling that there was anything wrong with South Africa.  The BBC is infamous for its hostility to strikers and the working class.  At the time of the Miners’ Strike, in one famous incident at Orgreave coke depot, it reversed the sequence of pictures.  What actually happened was that the Police charged and battoned the miners, who retalitated by throwing stones and missiles.  The BBC however showed the miners’ throwing the stones first and the Police then charging them on horseback, implying therefore that the Police were reacting rather than instigating violence. 

At the time of the 1926 General Strike, the Archbishop of Canterbury no less wanted to go on radio to plead for a peaceful compromise between the parties.  The ruling class and Tories wanted a victory.  So Lord Reith, then BBC Director General, banned the Archbishop from broadcasting  his plea.  And so it has always been.  Criticism of the monarchy is virtually unheard of on the deferential Beeb.  The BBC is born in the womb of the British state but, unlike the raucous right-wing US media – Fox News and CNN – it makes a pretence at independence.

That is why all good progressives and socialists should refuse, on principle, to pay the BBC licence fee.  All you are doing is subsidising the mouthpiece of the class enemy.  You don’t have to let an inspector into your house.  You don’t have to give your name, or your real name.  Punish the parasites where it hurts – in their pockets.

And to put my money where my mouth is let me declare that from now on I SHALL REFUSE TO PAY ONE SINGLE PENNY TOWARDS THE BBC.  Let Israel and its Zionist supporters pay for the institution and then at least people will see that he who pays the piper calls the tune.  To foster illusions that the BBC is independent is the most damaging of all messages.  Below is an excellent article from Electronic Intifada

Tony Greenstein

Why is the BBC so afraid of the word “Palestine”?
Amena Saleem, The Electronic Intifada, 2 February 2012
Aza Raskin

This week, the BBC issued its final ruling on a controversy which has been raging for nearly a year after the words “Free Palestine” were censored from a freestyle rap played on Radio 1Xtra.

Appearing on the popular Charlie Sloth Hip Hop M1X last February, the artist Mic Righteous performed a rap which included the lyrics: “I can scream Free Palestine for my pride/still pray for peace.”

BBC producers replaced the word ‘Palestine’ with the sound of breaking glass and this is the version that was aired and which can be seen on a video on the BBC website (the censorship occurs at 2:59).

The edited performance was repeated in April on the same show.

BBC upholds censorship decision

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has spent the last eight months trying to find out why the decision to censor an artist who raised the issue of Palestine was made.

During the course of a long correspondence, the BBC’s head of editorial standards for audio and music, Paul Smith, wrote that the show’s producer “did not edit out the word ‘Palestine’ because it was offensive — referencing Palestine is fine, but implying that it is not free is the contentious issue.”

In that single sentence, a senior BBC executive revealed the BBC’s complete disdain for the Palestinians and their suffering, and its shameful disregard for international law when it is being broken by Israel.

The United Nations is clear in its recognition of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and UN Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza. The chant “Free Palestine” is basically shorthand for the same demand.

It is obvious why Israel, the occupier, would want to silence calls for a free Palestine, but not so clear why the BBC feels the same. PSC’s attempts to find out, backed up by a concerted campaign of pressure from members, resulted on 31 January 2012 with the BBC’s ruling that it had been “overcautious” in making the edit but that the final content broadcast on the Charlie Sloth show had not been biased and therefore did not breach its editorial guidelines.

And so this taxpayer-funded public broadcaster evaded our accusation that it had displayed bias against Palestine through its censorship of an artist’s work, and instead defended itself by saying that the final content, from which the word “Palestine” had been removed, was not biased against Palestine.

It is a level of manipulation and duplicity that would not be out of place in Joseph Heller’s novel of self-contradictory, circular logic, Catch 22.

Artists speak out against censoring Palestine

The musician and political activist Lowkey, who has made regular appearances on the Charlie Sloth Hip Hop M1X, said of the BBC’s decision: “This censorship sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the BBC, where it seems people are free to criticize any state in the world, even their own, but not Israel. Moreover, it seems you are free to recognize the plight of any group of people in the world, apart from Palestinian people. One can only wonder why.”

Lowkey was one of 19 artists, MPs, academics and lawyers who signed a letter to The Guardian newspaper on 23 May 2011 protesting the edit as “an attack on the principles of free speech” (“Palestine on the BBC”).

The film and television director Ken Loach was another signatory, and he also condemned the BBC’s final ruling this week, accusing the corporation of making “a perverse, political judgement.”

He added: “The BBC’s bias towards Israel is consistent, relentless and has been clearly documented by the Glasgow Media Group in Bad News from Israel and More Bad News from Israel. One small example: when Palestine was admitted to UNESCO, Radio 5 Live’s news bulletin in the afternoon had one interviewee to comment. Guess what? It was an Israeli. No Palestinian was allowed to speak. In general, the Palestinian voice is not heard.”

Palestinian voices missing from flagship BBC program

The absence of the Palestinian voice from the BBC’s considerable output is glaring. Even more so when compared to the frequency with which Israeli government ministers, opposition leaders and spokespersons are invited to air their views.

The Today program on BBC Radio 4 is promoted by the BBC as being its flagship news and current affairs program. Broadcast daily except Sundays, it is widely acknowledged as setting the political agenda for the day.

In the 12 months from February 2011 to February 2012, Today conducted at least six in-depth one-on-one interviews with Israeli spokespersons, including Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, and Tzipi Livni, the leader of Kadima, now Israel’s opposition party which previously led the government and ordered Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 2008-09 massacre in Gaza. There was also an interview with the outgoing Israeli ambassador to London in June 2011 and with his successor three months later.

The outstanding characteristic of each interview is that the BBC’s heavyweight journalists, including John Humphreys and James Naughtie, both famous for their aggressive interviewing style, conducted them without challenge or interruption. Moreover, the interviews focused on the issues of “Israel’s security in the light of the Arab Spring” and “the threat of Iran.” Israel’s aggression towards the Palestinians and its daily violations of international law were not considered topics for discussion.

In that same period, not a single Palestinian leader or spokesperson was accorded a similar one-on-one interview on the Today program. While Israelis were interviewed, on average, once every two months, the Palestinian viewpoint was simply not sought.

This culture of promoting the Israeli perspective while denying the same rights to the Palestinians was vividly highlighted during the three day visit of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to London last month. Abbas met Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal leader of the Church of England, to discuss the Jordanian-backed peace talks.

During a press conference with Abbas, Clegg condemned Israel’s West Bank settlements and described them as “an act of deliberate vandalism” to peace negotiations.

Yet on the Today programme, and across the BBC, it was as if Abbas’ visit had never happened. The BBC’s self-proclaimed flagship news and current affairs program made no mention of it over the three days he was in London, it found nothing newsworthy to report on from the press conference with Clegg, and there was certainly no long, uninterrupted interview with any Palestinian figures, despite this being the ideal opportunity to seek their views.

Even more incredibly, on the first day Abbas was in London, the Today program not only ignored him, but chose instead to interview Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who happened to be in Manchester, for a full six minutes during which he wasn’t challenged on any of Israel’s well-documented violations.


Palestine “does not exist”

This is all shocking enough, but it doesn’t end there.

In the same letter in which he disputed the occupation, the BBC’s Paul Smith went on to say: “Palestine does not exist at the moment … ‘Palestine’ refers to a historical state or an aspiration.”

According to BBC journalists who have spoken to PSC, this is the BBC’s unofficial policy on “Palestine” and hence the desperate attempts to keep the word out of its broadcasts. An exception, they say, will be made during the Olympics when reporting on the efforts of the Palestinian competitors.

But this does not go far enough. In November, PSC wrote to the BBC to ask why Canon Giles Fraser, the recently departed Canon Chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, had been allowed to say he was visiting Israel during a report for the Sunday program when, in fact, the towns he visited were Bethlehem and East Jerusalem — both in the occupied West Bank.

We received this reply: “He didn’t refer to going to Palestine because at the moment there is no independent state of Palestine. The aim of the peace process is to establish a state of Palestine alongside a state of Israel but until this happens many people prefer not to use the word.”

So there you have it — as far as the BBC is concerned, Palestine is a dirty word. It’s controversial and using it may offend people who deny its existence.

Who benefits from the erasing of Palestine from our news reports? The same people who benefit from the BBC’s complete failure to place news events from the occupied territories in the context of occupation, blockade, house demolitions, land theft, arbitrary arrest and trial of civilians, including children, in military courts, the destruction of farmland and olive groves by settlers, air and land attacks and much more. The same people who benefit when the BBC consistently invites Israeli spokespeople onto its programs to voice their fears for Israeli security, without mentioning the daily terror of the Palestinians under occupation.

The result is coverage which is incomplete and misinformed at best and complicit in an illegal occupation at worst. Frighteningly, it is produced and broadcast by a media organization which commands the lion’s share of the audience in the UK and has a worldwide reach.

And, in the time of the Arab uprisings, when the BBC is covering the struggles of millions of people for freedom, its greatest shame is that it remains committed to editorial practices that make Palestine invisible.

Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available at:

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Tony Greenstein

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