BBC Radio 4 dances with the ‘apartheid’ trope

h/t Sharon, Joe

The small, but noisy, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel  – led by its ‘high priest’ Omar Bargouti – has, according to him, three basic aims:

“… ending Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands occupied since 1967; ending racial discrimination against its Palestinian citizens; and recognising the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

As Norman Finkelstein (not one of the better known card-carrying Zionists) pointed out earlier this year, the makers of those demands have one end-game in their sights.

“They call it their three tiers… We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What’s the result? You know and I know what’s the result: there’s no Israel.”

And indeed, many of the BDS movement’s supporters, founders and activists are very open about that end-game, despite the fact that “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is defined as antisemitism under the EUMC Working Definition of that form of racism. 

The methods used to try to bring about that end game include the deligitimisation of Israel: the attempt to paint a picture of a country so morally unacceptable that any ‘right-minded’ person cannot possibly tolerate its continued existence.

One way of doing that is to use the ‘apartheid’ trope. By deliberately employing rhetoric which the public associates with a universally morally unacceptable theme, the BDS movement aspires to brand Israel in the minds of the general public with the same stigma as the former racist regime in South Africa. 

Of course a close and factual examination of the situation immediately reveals that the use of the ‘apartheid’ trope in relation to Israel is utterly unfounded.  But sadly, many if not most members of the general public do not have sufficient knowledge of the facts to be able to assess the ‘apartheid’ trope for what it really is: a rhetorical tactic relying on the human mind’s natural tendency to make associations. 

A recent programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (iPM, November 24th 2012), supposedly about the recent  BDS protests against the Israeli dance troupe ‘Batsheva’ at the Edinburgh Festival, did nothing to meet the BBC’s obligations to “seek to ensure that the BBC gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas.” 

Instead – as we have seen happen on various BBC outlets with increasing frequency of late – it provided a platform for an anti-Israel activist, supporting what is ultimately a racist cause, to spout factually incorrect propaganda posing as an ‘opinion’ – unchallenged. 

Scottish play-write and national poet Liz Lochhead stated:

“Well, when I went to Palestine in June this year [….] Well, believe me, I saw a really horrible place to live. After that I was happy to sign the letter against the Batsheva Dance Company being welcomed officially at the Edinburgh International Festival. I used to be naïve enough to think that arts and politics don’t and shouldn’t mix and that is a naïve point of view. People in Israel are not speaking out. They’re not seeing the way the Palestinians live. The ..emm…country is run on such apartheid lines it’s possible for the two sides to just literally not see each other. And that’s a terrible thing and this boycott is a regrettable, but entirely legitimate and very, very useful tool for getting behind the news.”

Did interviewer Eddie Mair demand that Lochhead qualify her statements with facts or himself present any facts which would allow the audience to understand the issue in a balanced manner?

No chance. Listen to the whole programme here

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21 comments on “BBC Radio 4 dances with the ‘apartheid’ trope

  1. Given the increasingly vociferous activity of the BDS movement it seems to me that the Israeli PR machine misses a trick in not making more of the economic advances on the West Bank over the recent past and how the quality of life in that area has improved as a result of less anti- Israel activity and more effort in their own interest

  2. i listened to this and was astonished by her claims. Surely she has brains enough to realise that if the allegation of ‘apartheid’ had any truth whatsoever, it would be a matter raised, discussed and, later, policy-directed by the British (and foreign) parliament(s)?

    To the listener Mair;s questions may have seemed fair and balanced, but by failing to address the claim of apartheid, he may well have lent credibility to her view and by omission, misinformed this particular BBC audience.

    Unless, of course, Mair himself hasn’t a clue.

  3. You do not mention that the Lochead interview was preceded, for putative “balance,” by the interview with Victoria Drew, who expresses her very moving enthusiasm for Batsheva’s work (she is spending a year in Israel learning about a particular dance genre) and saying why she is against cultural and academic boycotts. Some may not be entirely happy that she feels the need to qualify her position by pointing out that the director of Batsheva is a right on guy when it comes to Israeli politics, but on the whole it is very positive. Of course this does not “balance”; the misrepresentations about apartheid from Lochead which follow. Nevertheless, read Drew’s blog from Israel here, express support, and circulate it where appropriate.
    http://www.cloud-dance-festival.org.uk/Blogs-Reviews/Blogger/Listings/victoriadrew.html

  4. despite the fact that “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is defined as antisemitism under the EUMC Working Definition of that form of racism.

    It does not say that. You are lying.

  5. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

    It DOES say that. But it DOES NOT say that that IS antisemitic.

  6. Sencar and that is before we even get to the nonsense of this self determination garbage. Nothing and no one self determines.

  7. realzionist is deluded to the extent that anti jewish racism does not equal antisemitism and sencar is deluded to the extent that a homeland for the jewish people, for the purpose of protecting themselves from antisemites like him is de facto racist.

    So sad to see you fellow delusionals at loggerheads. come on guys, get your act together or you’ll never get one over on those slippery jews.

  8. The definition actually doesn’t include any of this stuff. The definition is pretty much what you would find in any dictionary.Later on the other stuff was added at the instigation of an American.It merely says that instances of certain things COULD be a modern manifestation of anti semitism. Could be but could not be. But then so COULD ” the cat sat on the mat.”

    Essentially it is misused as a craven piece of blackmail to bully people out of being critical of Israel with knee jerk screams of racism. It works to some extent, it is not surprising that people are sensitive to allegations of racism, it is about the vilest thing you can say to someone. Thats tough if it is true, but despicable in the extreme when it is not true and is merely an exercise in blackmail. But don’t worry about me I gave up being bullied by it a long time ago.

  9. Apartheid in SA was entrenched in law and after all that is where the method was invented. So if that example is used as a basis for discussion and analysis of how Israel functions, it must be fully understood.

    Lockhead says amongst other things:

    “…The ..emm…country is run on such apartheid lines it’s possible for the two sides to just literally not see each other….”

    It is of course possible that I never see my neighbour. That does not translate into an apartheid situation. No such law exists in Israel and indeed when you go there in an impartial objective investigatory way you will find that there is a cross mix of all people’s in Israel, including Arabs both Christian and Muslim who enjoy total freedom in a very vibrant democracy. ,

    If Lockhead is implying that the border provides for immigration checks, well so does any country in the entire world. Nobody can simply cross a national border and enter another country at will. Something called a passport is required and in the West for sure at any single moment a three hour line is average for security checks. Why must Israel simply allow anybody who is not an Israeli citizen unfettered access particularly when it is the major country at risk from genocidal terrorist activity?

  10. “They call it their three tiers… We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What’s the result? You know and I know what’s the result: there’s no Israel.”

    I do not agree with the boycott.

    How does Norman make the leap from the boycotts demands to this being the end of Israel? To make that leap is rather complex, so to assume ‘You know and I know’ is really a long range expectation. OK, so yes I do know Normans thinking (at least with repect to demands 1 and 2)..1) Ending the WB occupation could lead to a grave security concern to Israel 2) The right of return is a trickier concept that could take alot of explanation 3) I do not see how giving equal rights to Israeli Arabs even comes into the equation of ‘the end of Israel’.

    Are you guys engaging in an artform which is known as ‘Preaching to the choir’?

    If Norman assumes ‘You know and I know’ when it comes to complex issues with a long history, he is already assuming who his audience is. His assumptions almost certainly mean he is in no way talking to a newcomer to the subject.

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