The BBC programme ‘From our own Correspondent’ – broadcast on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service – promises its audiences:
“Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines.”
On March 16th 2013, the broadcast included an item by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly (available here from 21:58), the synopsis of which reads:
“People in Jerusalem are awaiting the imminent arrival of Barack Obama. Kevin Connolly speculates on what may emerge from the trip and wonders if, afterwards, streets will be named in honour of the American president! ”
Connolly’s attempts at wit unfortunately come across as more embarrassingly parochial than amusing.
“Foreigners tend to be commemorated here, naturally enough, according to the degree of enthusiasm they showed for the Zionist cause. So you’ll find streets named after Balfour and Lloyd George alongside roads named after men who are now otherwise figures of total historical obscurity. The back bench British MP Josiah Wedgwood, for example, or the colonial official Wyndham Deedes. The street map of Jerusalem can seem more like a ‘who’s he?’ rather than a Who’s Who.”
Of course it actually might be of some benefit to Mr Connolly’s listeners’ familiarity with Israel’s history (and Britain’s too) were the reporter to refrain from dismissing a figure such as Colonel Josiah Wedgwood as obscure before familiarizing himself with the latter’s tireless campaigning against British limitations on Jewish immigration to Palestine and against restrictions on entry to Britain for persecuted European Jews in the pre-war years.
The most notable feature of this report though is the slick manner in which several beloved BBC memes are inserted into it. The introduction to the item begins with presenter Kate Adie saying:
“Barack Obama arrives in Israel next week. It’s the first foreign trip of his new presidency and it promises to be a tricky one; not least because he and the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu don’t apparently get on.” [emphasis added]
Later on we have Connolly repeating that meme:
“Mr Obama is widely thought not to have warmed to Mr Netanyahu personally, but Congress loves him.” [emphasis added]
Thought by whom? The listener is not made privy to the source of the BBC’s ‘Chinese whispers’.
Another rather suspect meme promoted by Connolly comes in this passage:
“Obama did come here as a presidential candidate: a prudent step to woo the Jewish vote at home and to please the powerful pro-Israel lobby.” [emphasis added]
Connolly also informs listeners that:
“There will be much talk of Iran whilst President Obama is in Israel. Its nuclear ambitions worry most Israelis and they sometimes seem to obsess Prime Minister Netanyahu.” [emphasis added]
Can we then assume that if a neighbouring enemy country which had vowed to wipe Britain off the map was developing nuclear weapons, Kevin Connolly would not expect his prime minister to be preoccupied with that issue?
And we also have an insertion of the much touted – but entirely unfounded – meme that all would be sweetness and light in the Middle East if only the Israelis and the Palestinians would make peace.
“One reason perhaps why there was no visit in that first Obama term was the sudden fluidity of the Middle East – a kind of breaking of the political pack-ice after decades of stagnation. America suddenly needed changing policies for changing times in Tunisia and Libya and – above all – Egypt. [….] In those long years of stagnation there was an unspoken belief that the key to unlocking everything was to find peace between Israel and the Palestinian people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” [emphasis added]
As ridiculous as that “belief” may be, it was – and is – certainly not “unspoken” as Connolly claims. But one really would expect that analysts and commentators (and Western politicians) would have learned from the past two and a quarter years of Middle East turmoil that the fact that their own assessments and predictions proved redundant time and time again shows just how little of the region’s dynamics they actually understand. That applies just as much to the concept of the ‘peace process’ as the key to regional stability as it did to the ‘expert’ schools of thought which assured us that revolution would not happen in Libya and Syria, that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was ‘moderate’ and democracy-loving and that Bashar al Assad was a ‘reformer’.
The BBC’s seemingly limitless obsession with ‘the peace process’ as the only show in town – even as Al Qaeda affiliated militias stalk the Syrian side of Israel’s northern border and a Hamas minister tries to establish terror cells in PA controlled territories – is dismal testimony of the standard of Middle East-related “analysis” and “insight” it offers to its audiences.