This Proves the hypocrisy of the BDS Movement

May 21, 2013

There have been three Twitter stories that caught my eye today.

The first was a report out of Saudi Arabia about the beheading of five Yemenis. The men were found to have murdered a Saudi national and formed a gang that committed robberies across several towns in the kingdom. The bodies were then hung up on a crane outside a university for everyone to see. This takes the total number of executions in Saudi Arabia to 46 so far this year

The second story was also about Saudi Arabia, this time reporting that online access to an Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, was being blocked by the Saudi government.

The final story came from Israel. This reported that an Israeli Arab, a member of Israel’s Supreme Court, has been appointed to chair the country’s Central Elections Committee.

Two stories remind us that one country in the Middle East has no concept of human rights and remains a brutal tyranny.

The other story reminds us that one country in the Middle East is a thriving democracy that extends full human rights to all its citizens irrespective of race, gender or religion.

Yet against which of these countries does the BDS movement choose to campaign? Why, democratic Israel of course. If this does not prove them and their fellow travellers to be a bunch of hypocrites I do not know what will.

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Has Stephen Hawking Done Israel A Favour?

May 13, 2013

Much has been written over the past few days about Professor Stephen Hawking’s decision to withdraw from the President’s Conference in Israel. His decision to pull out was taken in response to a request from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) an organisation which deems Israel to be the sole perpetrator of all the evil in the world.

The BDS has been active in the UK for a long time, particularly in the world of academia and has tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to organise cultural boycotts when Israeli artistic companies have visited Britain. These activities, whilst they have generated some publicity have mostly gone unnoticed by the British public at large.

This time however, because of Stephen Hawking’s name and reputation, his decision to acquiesce to BDS demands has received massive publicity. BDS of course consider this a triumph, but is it?

Every article I have read and every comment I have heard has been highly critical, not just of Hawking but of BDS too. Just today there has been another article in The Times, this time by Daniel Johnson of Standpoint. Johnson notes that Hawking has spoken in Iran and China, those bastions of liberal democracy; and he makes no bones about the ultimate objective of BDS, which is nothing less than the elimination of the State of Israel. All of these articles have exposed the hypocrisy of the BDS movement in singling out Israel alone for such treatment and raised the probability that behind it is plain old-fashioned anti-Semitism. They all properly point out that Hawking relies on Israeli designed microchip to enable him to communicate which makes him a hypocrite too.

These have been the common threads throughout the week since Hawking’s announcement. I have been waiting a long time to read such widespread denunciations of BDS in the mainstream media and how welcome it is to see it now. My hope is that more people than ever before in this country are aware of BDS and see it for what it is. People who thought it was there to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians now will know better. They will have read and heard that it is a nasty bunch of left-wing, hate filled hypocrites whose sole aim is to wipe the only democracy in the Middle East off the face of the planet.

Maybe, just maybe, BDS’s “triumph” will blow up in its face.


The Left Loves to Hate

April 13, 2013

I am sure there are many people out there who are genuinely surprised at the level of hatred that has been on display in this country since news of the death of Baroness Thatcher was announced on Monday.

They should not be, for this hatred has been on display for a number of years if you know where to look for it.

I first became aware of it when I was elected as a Conservative councillor in 1982. Margaret Thatcher had been Prime Minister for three years by then and we won control of our council, (Hillingdon) in a landslide. I was prepared for the labour opposition to be disappointed, and I was prepared for strong, reasoned arguments against some of our policies. I was not prepared however for the naked hostility and bitterness which was so openly and frequently on display. Their loathing and contempt for us was not as politicians but as people, and it took some getting used to. As a football fan, I am not unfamiliar with hostility from opposing fans, but this was far worse than anything I had seen at a football ground. Of course, such an attitude became totally counterproductive, because even when they had something reasonable to say, it would be delivered, clothed in such vitriol, as to make it impossible to be taken seriously.

Another area in which the Left’s propensity to hate is on regular display is in the politics of the Middle east and in particular Israel. The Left do not just dislike Israel. They do not just disagree with that country’s government. They hate it. They do not want Israel to change its policies. They want it to disappear. To further their agenda they re-write history, they either ignore or distort the truth, they tell outright lies and use pejorative terms such as “apartheid state” or “racist state” believing that if you repeat all this nonsense often enough it becomes the accepted truth; and thanks to the help of their comrades in sections of the media, (take a bow Guardian and BBC), they are not wrong.

I make this reference to Israel because these same tactics have been on display again this week with regards to Margaret Thatcher, once more aided and abetted by their media friends. Thus, if you listen to the haters, you would believe that she was single-handedly responsible for the closure of all the mines in the country. In fact she closed 22. Harold Wilson closed 93 – now there is a fact you do not hear very often. They say that she was responsible for the end of manufacturing in the UK. The role of the unions in the closures of course is overlooked as is the fact that nobody was buying British cars for instance, because they were so awfully made.

Now they are trying to lay the blame for banking crisis at her door. All she did was open up the City of London to global competition thereby laying the foundation for the growth and prosperity that followed from that action. It was Gordon Brown who took governance of the City from the Bank of England and established the FSA that failed so dismally in its duties. Once again however, that fact is conveniently overlooked.

What troubles me most about the events of the past week is the way that so many young people who were not even born when Margaret Thatcher was in office have cheerfully joined in the with the anti Thatcher hate fest. From what has been seen on our television screens, many of them are not from the deprived communities in the North that might feel they are justified in their dislike of the Lady, but are from comfortable middle class homes. Where have they learned the politics of hate? Who has not taught them that are two sides to every argument. And who has failed to teach them where irrational, visceral hatred can lead?

By dominating vast sections of the media and the education establishment, the haters on the left are ensuring that their vile policies will be with us for a long time to come. That should be a cause of great concern to all of us who care about the future of our country.


Worrying Times

February 23, 2013

If you are Jewish it is hard to comprehend all that has occurred in the past few days.

First of all there was the report that Israel’s deputy ambassador had to be evacuated from Essex University, unable to give the lecture he was supposed to give because of disruption from students. There was all the usual talk from the PSC and SWP students about “war crimes” and Israel being an “apartheid state.” It is neither surprising nor unprecedented for the extreme left to stifle the voices of those with whom they disagree; nor is it surprising that this should have happened at Essex, a university with a long history of extreme left politics. None the less, this is one more in a long list of examples of the extreme hostility that those who dare to support Israel face on our campuses.

If that wasn’t enough for one night, we then had the case of George Galloway who walked out of a debate at Christ Church, Oxford on the subject “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”. On learning that his opponent was an Israeli, he simply marched out of the door saying that he does not recognise Israel and does not debate with Israelis.

What a way for a Member of the British Parliament to behave.

And whilst all that was happening over here, across the channel in a pub in Lyon, a group of Spurs supporters, in France to see their team play in a Europa League cup match, were attacked by a bunch of Neo Nazis. The reason? Tottenham Hotspur has a large number of Jewish supporters and therefore is known as a “Jewish” club.

Any one of these incidents should give rise for concern. That all three should occur within a matter of hours is to me very worrying. It is reported in the Jewish Chronicle this week that French Jews are fleeing to London in large numbers to escape growing anti-Semitism in that country. Given what is happening here in the UK one wonders if they are not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Remember too, only a couple of weeks ago there was David Ward MP making deeply offensive anti-Semitic comments and the equally offensive Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times.

Jews in France are caught in a vice. On one side is a far right movement much more prominent there than here. On the other side is a large North African population that in some areas the authorities can barely control.

Here, in spite of a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, thanks to the superb work of the Community Security Trust (CST) who monitor all such incidents and work very closely with the authorities, Jews still consider themselves relatively safe. However, this is no time for complacency.

I have no doubt that as long as the demonization of Israel continues, so will the rise in anti-Semitism. I have said before, I have no problem when people criticize actions taken by the government of Israel in a manner they would use to criticise actions taken by their own or any other government. Unfortunately, that is not what we are seeing. The incidents at two universities this week are just the latest examples of an irrational, bitter hatred for, and obsession with Israel alone that so far as I am aware is unprecedented in history. And as long as that continues, Jews cannot feel totally safe anywhere. Less than seventy years after the horrors of the second World war, that is a shocking state of affairs.


The Sunday Times and the BBC

February 3, 2013

Last week the Sunday Times published a cartoon by Gerald Scarfe that showed a grotesque image of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu building a wall using a bloodied trowel and mortar and with agonised Palestinians trapped between the bricks. I took one look at it and thought I had picked up a 1930’s edition of Der Sturmer by mistake.

The cartoon was as vile a piece of anti-Semitism as I have seen drawing as it did on the old trope of the blood libel. That it was published on Holocaust Memorial Day mad it immeasurably worse. After my initial shock, I at once took to Twitter to announce that I was going to cancel my subscription.

But then two things happened. First of all, Rupert Murdoch the owner of the Sunday Times stepped in immediately to apologise on Twitter for what he described as ” a grotesque, offensive cartoon.” This was followed by a further apology from the acting editor of the paper, Martin Ivens. Now in today’s leading articles there is a further, fulsome apology.

The Sunday Times made a mistake. It has owned up and has apologised. I am happy to forgive and am very glad that I can continue to read it.

And that is the point I want to make in this post. Had there been no apology I was free to cancel my subscription. I believe that I and indeed everyone should have the same freedom of choice when it comes to all media, print or broadcast. I am thinking particularly of the BBC which offends me almost daily with its left-wing political viewpoint and even more so with its anti- Israel bias that sometimes itself comes very close to anti-Semitism.

I find it absurd that in this day and age, we are forced by law to fund an organisation that all too often causes as much offense as did the Scarfe cartoon.

The BBC has become a huge, unmanageable organisation that considers itself to be beyond reproach. The time has come to level the playing field and to make it subject to the same commercial realities as all other media organisations. The time has come too, to give the public the right to choose to subscribe to it or not.


The Inevitability of David Ward

January 26, 2013

The deeply distasteful comments made on his blog by Liberal MP David Ward are the inevitable consequence of the never-ending anti Israel narrative promoted by significant sections of the UK Media.

And not just the media. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement singles out Israel, the Jewish state alone as the one evil country in the world worthy of its attention.

Hate preachers regularly visit our universities meaning Jewish students frequently have to endure a climate of antiSemitism. So bad has this situation become that last year at Edinburgh University, Daniel Taub the Israeli ambassador was shouted down and prevented from speaking amid cries of “From the river(Jordan) to the sea, Palestine will be free” and describing the ambassador as “a propagandist for an apartheid state.” Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. Other pro-Israel speakers have had talks interrupted or cancelled, always with cries describing Israel as a racist and/or apartheid state.

Such casual misuse of language, particularly when it is repeated often enough, soon adds legitimacy to the lie, as the Nazis themselves well knew.

It matters not that across the Middle east, muslims kill each other almost on a daily basis. More than 60,000 have been killed in Syria in the last few months alone – more than have died in the entire Israel/Palestine conflict since 1948 – and the world barely bats an eyelid. But, should a single Palestinian die when Israel takes action to defend itself, then the world condemns, and Israel stands accused of using disproportionate force and countless other crimes.

It is hardly surprising therefore that in this frenzy of anti Israel hatred, anti-Semitism should flourish. Not that I believe there is any distinction between the two. Of course it is perfectly legitimate to criticize Israeli government policy and I often do so myself. But what is happening today goes way beyond that. No sane person would deny that there are far, far worse regimes around than Israel, regimes with histories of violence and human rights abuse that greatly exceed what is alleged to happen in Israel. Yet these regimes receive but a fraction of the criticism that Israel does. There are no BDS movements for them. Their representatives can visit our universities without fear of protest and their artists can perform in our theatres without interruption. There is no attempt to delegitimize these states or calls for them to be abolished. Only Israel is singled out for this treatment. So why the distinction? It can only be because Israel is the Jewish State.

And because of this poisonous atmosphere where Israel is concerned, newspapers feel free to publish tasteless cartoons that would not have been out-of-place in Der Sturmer; Otherwise respectable middle class English people feel free to disrupt concerts or theatre performances whenever Israelis come here to perform. References to the “Jewish Lobby” one of the oldest of anti-Semitic tropes, are common place. And MPs like David Ward, conscious of his large Muslim constituency see nothing wrong in equating the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz with Israeli actions taken to defend itself against enemies who deny its right to exist. To say such moral equivalence is vile is to understate the case by a mile.

But make no mistake. Ward’s comments are nothing new. The only reason they have attracted such wide attention is because of the timing, coinciding as they do, with Holocaust Memorial Day. Otherwise, in the current climate, they probably would have passed un-noticed or indeed would have attracted silent nods of agreement from those who subscribe to the distorted view of Israel so prevalent today.


BBC

November 18, 2012

The crisis at the BBC has been a long time coming and it will take far more than the resignation of George Entwistle to resolve it. That is because there is much more wrong at the BBC than just the problems highlighted by the Newsnight failings.

Those failings have caused many people to wonder if they can trust the BBC, an organisation that once was a byword for integrity and honest reporting. The reality is however that for a long time now, its integrity and truthfulness have been in doubt.

Throughout the 1980s it became apparent that the BBC was not just reporting the news in the impartial manner that its Charter required; rather it had begun “spinning” stories, slanting them to reflect the leftist viewpoint that was becoming the dominant force throughout the organisation. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the BBC was becoming the broadcasting wing of the Guardian, the left of centre newspaper that is now virtually required reading if you wanted to get ahead.

For me, the moment that proved that the BBC had lost all moral authority, was the infamous Question Time programme broadcast on 13th September 2001, two days after the 9/11 attacks.
For an hour, a former US ambassador had to endure an astonishing outpouring of vitriol from an audience that insisted that America had it coming and had got its just desserts. I know I was not alone in being reduced to tears of shame at what I was witnessing on my television screen that night.

One might have thought that after that debacle, the BBC would have taken a long, cold, hard look at itself to assess where it went wrong. But that would have been expecting too much. Such is the arrogance of the organisation and so in thrall to the leftist world view had it become, that no-one working there could see any need for change. Indeed, in the years since, that view has become even more entrenched along with the assumption that it is too big and too important for any outside body to interfere with how it is run.

But with an annual income, forcibly extracted from every household in the land of £3.6 billion, the need for greater accountability has never been clearer. The new Charter, which came into force in 2007 and which created the BBC Trust to replace the former Board of Governors, was supposed to have provided that, but so far, with little visible success. The obsession with political correctness, the left of centre viewpoint still dominate the Corporation’s output; and not just the news but can be seen in drama and entertainment programmes too.

And as time goes by, the BBC becomes ever bolder in the way it pushes its agenda. At times I feel it does not even try to pretend any more that it is even-handed. Some BBC people even admit it. Thus, Andrew Marr. “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.” What Marr does not say of course, is that as the Corporation has grown, the staffing profile he has highlighted becomes self-perpetuating, as not unnaturally, newcomers reflect the preferences of those employing them. Walk into a job interview carrying a copy of the Daily Telegraph and you will be out of the door in 5 minutes. If on the other hand you are carrying the Guardian, sign here please.

Today, the BBC’s position can be summed up as follows. It is pro Labour, Pro Europe, pro Green and obsessively politically correct. It is Anti Tory, Anti America, (except Obama of course,) anti Markets and above all, anti Israel. Indeed such is its hostility to Israel that to date it has spent in excess of £300,000 of licence fee income to prevent the publication of the Balen report which looked into its anti-Israel bias in the reporting of the Middle East conflict. If they had nothing to hide, why go to such extremes to keep the report under wraps? Even as I am writing this blog, I can see numerous examples of that bias in its reporting of the current crisis in Israel/Gaza.

There is a unique opportunity now, as several new enquiries get underway following the Newsnight disasters, for a complete overhaul of the organisation. If these enquiries concentrate just on those programmes’ failings, that would be a tragic waste. What needs to happen is that no aspect of the way the BBC is run should fail to be put under the microscope. Its funding. Is there a place in the 21st century for a broadcaster funded by a mandatory levy on the public? Its vastly overblown management structure. How is that going to be reduced as it must be when budgets everywhere are being cut. The services it provides – is there for instance still a need for Radio 1 when commercial broadcasters provide exactly the same service? Should it concentrate mainly on providing the cultural, educational programming as envisioned in its Charter? How is it to deal with the impartiality issue so essential to regaining the public’s trust? These, and no doubt there are others I have left out, are the issues that have to be considered.

I have been severely critical of the BBC for a number of years, primarily because of its blatant bias. However, at the same time, I recognise that there is much that it is quite superb at doing. Its coverage of the recent Olympics springs immediately to mind. I want to see it continuing to do those good things, but at the same time, I want to see it stop doing the very bad things. That will only happen if we fully grasp the opportunity that is now upon us.