The Sunday August 25th edition of the BBC Radio 2 programme ‘Good Morning Sunday’ hosted by Clare Balding featured a two-hour live broadcast from Cheltenham Racecourse where the Greenbelt Festival was being held over the bank holiday weekend. The programme can be heard here for a limited period of time.
In the above synopsis the event is described as “an arts, faith and justice festival” – with that portrayal having come straight from the festival’s own tin – but as many readers probably know, there is a lot more to the Greenbelt Festival than just happy clappy music gigs and some of the event’s other strata raise the very serious question of why the BBC spent two hours putting lipstick on this event.
Near the beginning of the programme Clare Balding remarks on the “lovely feel” to the festival and her interviewee, the festival’s creative director Paul Northup, describes the event as “inclusive” and engaging”. However, any stray Israelis who happened to stumble upon it would probably find the event decidedly less than inclusive.
Balding makes no mention of the fact that one of the festival’s ‘attractions’ was a “giant interactive floor game for all ages” titled “Occupation”.
“Our installation in the Centaur foyer aims to give a glimpse of the challenges faced by ordinary Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. There’ll be a giant, interactive floor game – Occupation! – for all ages. Roll the dice and make your way through checkpoints and challenges, permit denials and poverty. On your journey, you’ll learn about the issues affecting the West Bank and Gaza and find out how you can help Embrace the Middle East to make a positive difference to the lives of marginalised people.
Occupation! is just a game, and you can walk freely away whenever you want, but the message behind it is a serious one. In the West Bank and Gaza, injustice continues to weave through the fabric of Palestinian life. Join us as we embrace the work of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters in their determination to be agents of change.”
The organizer of that exercise in the indoctrination of the hundreds of children who attended the festival is ‘Embrace the Middle East‘ – a Greenbelt associate partner – which might be better known to some readers under its former name of ‘Bible Lands’ and which continues to be headed by anti-Israel campaigner Jeremy Moodey.
An additional Greenbelt event organized by ‘Embrace the Middle East’ was the official launch of a document titled ‘Kairos Britain: A Time for Action’, which purports to be a ‘response’ to the 2009 ‘Kairos Palestine’ document.
The ‘Kairos Britain’ document is replete with far too many distortions and downright lies to mention in this brief article, as readers can see for themselves here. Those familiar with the Christian anti-Israel scene in the UK will recognize many of the names endorsing it (see the ‘related articles’ section below) and this screenshot of the document’s first page – illustrated with the infamous ‘maps’ which would be avoided like the plague by anyone with an honest agenda – gives some idea of how this document makes a mockery of the commandment “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” to which its authors presumably supposedly adhere.
Clare Balding refrains from asking Paul Northup about his signature’s appearance on that decidedly non-inclusive ‘Boycott Divestment and Sanctions’ promoting document. She also ‘forgets’ to tell audiences that her musical guest Garth Hewitt is another signatory or that he is a patron of the Hamas-supporting Palestine Solidarity Campaign and heads the anti-Israel campaigning ‘charity’ ‘Amos Trust’ which even exploits Christmas to spread anti-Israel propaganda.
Of course the vast majority of Christians in the UK have no time for the type of anti-Israel agenda promoted by the organisers of the Greenbelt Festival, but nevertheless BBC Radio 2 not only saw fit to devote an entire programme to this fringe event, but also completely whitewashed its anti-Israel campaigning with astounding efficiency, with the result that listeners would get the impression that this is no more than a cuddly extended church coffee morning with live music.
Beyond the obvious issues of accuracy and impartiality, it will clearly be of concern to many a licence fee payer to discover that the BBC is complicit in promoting and sanitising an event which stigmatises an entire nation, hence mainstreaming that delegitimisation.