BBC’s Connolly exploits Mandela’s death for political campaigning

On December 5th, as news of Nelson Mandela’s death became public, Ben Cohen opened an article which is well worth reading in full with the following words:

“In the coming days, there will be much reflection on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, following the former South African president’s passing on Dec. 5. And in the coming weeks, we can anticipate a febrile exchange over his true views on Israel and the Middle East.”

With remarkable alacrity, one of the first out of the stalls was the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly, with an article titled “Mandela’s mixed legacy for the Middle East” which appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page early on the morning of December 6th.  

Connolly Mandela article

Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a more cynical and opportunistic exploitation of Mandela’s death in order to promote an unrelated political agenda than that which is on display in Connolly’s article. And yet, that screed must have presumably passed the ‘safety nets’ of editors and Connolly’s bureau chief before publication.

Colebourn Connolly artic tweet

Connolly’s overall message to BBC audiences is distilled into one of the sentences he writes:

“The Palestinians have the easiest case to make in claiming Mr Mandela’s blessing for their cause.”

Euphemistically filing a terror organization responsible for the deaths of civilians – including many children – under the fuzzy heading “liberation movement”, Connolly writes:

“During his long years in jail as an ANC prisoner he [Mandela] was embraced by the PLO leadership as a fellow-fighter in a kind of global family of liberation movements.”

Having conferred legitimacy by association on terrorist leader Yasser Arafat by repeating anecdotes concerning alleged “genuine personal warmth between Arafat and Mandela that underlined the political link between them”, Connolly moves on to Israel.

Again, audiences are left in no doubt as to the direction in which Connolly seeks to herd them:

“At a moment when anyone with a claim to a share in the Mandela legacy is proud to make that connection, Israel has a painfully difficult case to make.”

However, Connolly’s ‘supporting evidence’ for that statement is largely based upon cherry-picked information and a speculative non-story promoted by the Guardian in 2010.

“It [Israel] was a close, if secretive, ally and arms supplier apartheid South Africa and there is a good case to be made that Israeli support helped the all-white regime in Pretoria to last longer than it otherwise might have.

There have been stories – which are difficult to substantiate definitively – that the co-operation extended into Israel sharing nuclear weapons technology.”

Connolly’s claim that “Israeli support helped the all-white regime in Pretoria to last longer than it otherwise might have” appears to have been resurrected from a Guardian article by Gary Younge dating from 2010 in which it was written:

“Throughout the 70s and 80s Israel had a deep, intimate and lucrative relationship with South Africa,” explains Sasha Polakow-Suransky, author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship With Apartheid South Africa. “Israel’s arms supplies helped to prolong the apartheid regime’s rule and to survive international sanctions.” 

As was noted by Cif Watch at the time:

“Anyone with the slightest knowledge of South African armaments knows that most of its weapons came from Britain, France and Belgium and were in service at the time of these discussions – for example, the South African Airforce at the time used English Electric Canberra bombers (Period of Service: 1963 – 1991), British Hawker Sidderley Buccaneers (Period of Service: 1965 – 1991) and French Dassault-Breguet Mirage fighters (Period of Service: 1965 – 1986) and the army used Belgian FN rifles and machine guns and British-made Alvis Saracen “88″ Prototype used extensively to suppress riots in the townships – yet neither Younge nor the Guardian claims that these massive amounts of weaponry, dwarfing anything Israel may have provided, imply that Britain, France and Belgium are or were apartheid states.”

Likewise, Kevin Connolly revealingly refrains from making the accusation that Britain, France and Belgium “helped to prolong the apartheid regime’s rule”:  BBC audiences are led to believe that only Israel belongs in that category. 

Connolly’s suggestion that “the co-operation extended into Israel sharing nuclear weapons technology” is also apparently based on the Guardian’s speculative accusations dating back to 2010. Readers can learn more about the flimsy nature of that paper’s insinuations from work done on the subject by CiF Watch here and here and further information (including  the BBC’s own questioning of the Guardian story at the time) is available here.

Connolly’s ‘disclaimer’ in the form of the words “which are difficult to substantiate definitively” does nothing to mitigate the fact that he is knowingly recycling a story discredited over four years ago in order to promote a specific agenda which has its roots in the delegitimisation of Israel for political purposes.

The gravity of such blatant breaches of the BBC’s editorial guidelines on both accuracy and impartiality (which should render Connolly’s position as a Jerusalem Bureau correspondent untenable – but most likely won’t) is shadowed only by the gross bad taste of Connolly’s cynical exploitation of the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death as a hook upon which he hangs his opportunistic political campaigning.

 

 

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42 comments on “BBC’s Connolly exploits Mandela’s death for political campaigning

  1. I am one of the very, very few South Africans who had the distinct privilege of accompanying Mandela to Israel. I know his views and they were balanced and fair. To present thrm as anythingb else is a lie!

  2. ““The Palestinians have the easiest case to make in claiming Mr Mandela’s blessing for their cause.””

    Indeed they do. In 1997 Mandela spoke on The International Day Of Solidarity With The Palestinian People, saying: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,”

    “Having conferred legitimacy by association on terrorist leader Yasser Arafat….”

    Mandela was familiar with the way that the ‘terrorist’ label is attached to liberation movements, only to be forgotten after the liberation. In a television interview with Larry King on 16 May 2000 he said: “I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists.”

    • In a television interview with Larry King on 16 May 2000 he said: “I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists.”

      The difference, of course, is that Israel is not the Palestinians’ country and that they are not struggling for liberation but intend to replace Israel with Palestine.

      Many of those who agitate on behalf of the Palestinians fail to understand that their allegedly noble goal is in fact the slaughter of Jews and the destruction of Israel, as the Hamas Charter makes abundantly clear and as Mahmoud Abbas keeps reminding us with his honouring of Palestinian terrorists who kill Israeli civilians, his refusal to accept the idea of one Jew as a citizen of a future Palestinian state and his refusal to recognise the only Jewish state.

      Nobody is fooled other than those who want to be fooled.

      • Israel is not any longer the Palestinians’ country but Palestine still is. Israel should stop trying to take it away from them. If Israel wanted, it could follow the Mandela ideal of a rainbow nation, bring down the apartheid wall and declare a really democratic state, with equal rights for all: one man/one woman-one vote.

          • “Since when have the Arabs been a trustworthy people – never ever!!!!!”

            Do I detect overt racism here, Russell? If BBCWatch administrators had any decency your post would be deleted.

          • You must have gone to a fantastic University or else you must live in Cuckoo land. Racism against Jews is thousands of years old. Yet when a Jew accuses Arabs of being incapable of telling the truth – it’s racist! The Israeli’s poisoned Arafat or no they didn’t – what day is it.? There was no Holocaust – according to Abbas etc, etc and so forth. AH!

          • The Jews were here being a Light unto the Nations – “Spreading the Word” You know, like the 10 Commandments the basis of most civilised countries Laws, thousands of years before you and yours – and will be here long after your name is forgotten.

          • “Do I detect overt racism here, Russell?”

            Do you mean as opposed to the covert anti-Semitism which you and Connolly feel comfortable with and the quite overt, ubiquitous anti-Semitism and racism of Arab societies which you and al Beeb studiously and willfully ignore, i.e., the 800 lb. gorilla in the room?

        • Israel is not any longer the Palestinians’ country….

          It never was since there never was a country called Palestine. If you imagine there was, perhaps you’d like to share the info on its capital, currency, form of government, etc.

          Before it came under the British Mandate, Palestine was a part of the Ottoman Empire with a number of varied inhabitants, including Jews and Arabs. Admittedly the Arabs were in the majority, but their numbers were radically increased when the British turned a blind eye to illegal Arab immigration from surrounding states while severely limiting Jewish immigration, especially from the hell of the Holocaust.

          If Israel wanted, it could follow the Mandela ideal of a rainbow nation, bring down the apartheid wall and declare a really democratic state, with equal rights for all: one man/one woman-one vote.

          Well, to judge by the situation in other Arab countries and in Gaza and the West Bank, that would be one man one vote once. And if you imagine that a really democratic state, with equal rights for all is possible with an Arab majority in Israel/Palestine, then I have a bridge over a major waterway to sell you, going cheap.

          • “Do Sencar & Jeff have to use different names? Why?”

            Perhaps because we’re two completely different people. If that’s not enough for you, we also have quite opposite opinions. Sound good? If not, you just might have a reading comprehension problem that needs to be addressed.

        • The Palestinians have Jordan which was part of the Mandated territory promised to the Jews by the British. They are waiting for a sham settlement with Israel before sending away the Hashemite ruler and declaring a third Palestinian state after Judea and Samaria and ‘liberated’ Gaza.

          • Yes, there undoubtedly is that sort of discrimination. However, that is not at the essence of Israel (I hope).

            The discrimination that lies at the centre of Israel is a keystone of Zionism – the philosophy of a “Jewish state”. So people are admitted on the basis of their JEWISHNESS. Even if I can prove that my ancestors lived in Jaffa (say), I have no right to come unless I am a jew.

            Am I right?

          • In common with many other countries, Israel gives precedence to its own absent nationals. As in any other country, others – of any religion or original nationality, can become citizens if they are not enemies of the state and if there is a good reason to make them citizens

            Other countries have such laws, including Armenia, Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Greece and Japan.

      • Is it true that Abbas has refused “the idea of one Jew as a citizen of a future Palestinian state”? What is the evidence for this?

        I think they have even said that all settlements can remain – the important thing is that Palestine should be democratic and non-discriminatory.

        I think the problem arises because of uncertainty about Israel’s borders. The original borders are acceptable. But the current ones are not.

        • Is it true that Abbas has refused “the idea of one Jew as a citizen of a future Palestinian state”? What is the evidence for this?

          His own words:

          http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/07/30/abbas-arabs-in-israel-no-jews-in-palestine-peace-process/

          I think they have even said that all settlements can remain – the important thing is that Palestine should be democratic and non-discriminatory.

          This is pure fantasy. There is little or no evidence for such a rose-tinted view of a future Palestinian state but a good deal of evidence for the likelihood that, if it ever comes about, it will be ruled by autocrats and riddled with religious and gender discrimination and, like Jordan and most other Arab countries, will be totally free of Jews.

          While I’m on the subject, note that it is illegal for a Jew to be a citizen of Jordan, One of Israel’s two Arab “peace partners.”

        • I think they have even said that all settlements can remain – the important thing is that Palestine should be democratic and non-discriminatory.

          Perhaps if they would now, today, enact a democratic constitution giving equality to both sexes and guaranteeing the independence of the press, Just like the BBC and the Guardian want.

          Equality for homosexuals too.

          There is nothing stopping the Palestinian authority from doing this NOW. To show it’s radical extreme left wing supporters that they intent to build an egalitarian society.

          • I’m not sure why you have switched the argument from alleging that Palestine would not allow Jews to remain (which is untrue), and are now to suggesting that Palestine might be anti-women or anti-homosexuals. Indeed some Palestinians are. But there again, so are many Christians and many Jews. Let Palestine have its freedom, and then I will be on your side in favour of no discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, or sexuality. When will Israel agree not to discriminate on the grounds of race or religion?

          • ’m not sure why you have switched the argument from alleging that Palestine would not allow Jews to remain (which is untrue),

            IN Abbas own words
            “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands,” Abbas said in a briefing to mostly Egyptian journalists.

  3. There were many influential jews in South Africa on both sides of the apartheid struggle. The pro-white group were presumably – well – white, and rich and older too I imagine. the ‘antis’ tended to be younger and more intellectual. Many of the latter ended up in England.

    But Israel as a state was clearly NOT on the anti-apartheid side of the apartheid struggle. Not suprisingly, the Palestinians were. They saw many parallels in their situation (and still do).

    • Israel was on the anti-Apartheid side to the extent that South African Jews came under threat from their government because of Israel’s UN voting and because of the significant proportion of Jews amongst whites in the ANC. Later there was military collaboration between the two countries because both were under threat of sanctions and both were fighting Russian-backed communist enemies.

  4. Kevin and Richard have clearly been educated at the the “BBC College of Journalism”/Jeremy Bowen Arab Propaganda Academy. Duvidl’s reprised verse below dedicated to Richard from a previous BBC Watch article clearly also applies to Kevin and also Jeremy’s other agit-prop-grads:

    Duvid should vent his anger on that editorial clown
    Who cannot tell the difference between a verb and a noun.
    Richard Colebourn’s well-staffed beeboid Jerusalem Bureau
    Is just one reason beeboid reputations are so low.
    Hebrew-writing Duvid could replace what Richard lacks.
    And he’s even conversant with common English syntax.

  5. Good work. I called time on the BBC a few years back and on Channel 4 News, a few years more back again. I am happy that there are people like you scrutinising in such detail will promote your posts for sure on my own blog and fb page

  6. Pingback: BBC’s Connolly exploits Mandela’s death for political campaigning « The Lost Society Reader

  7. Mandela was the man who saved his country by burying hate.
    Arafat was the man who betrayed his country by stoking hate.

    Spot the difference, Connolly.

  8. It’s taken decades of a cunning and widespead propaganda and sanctions campaign against Israel by the oil-rich Arab states to get the ‘International Community’ to see the Palestinians as apartheid victims and Israel as apartheid oppressors. In fact, historically it was the Jews, including the Jews of pre-Israel Palestine, who were the victims of the Arabs, subjected to gross discrimination and pogroms.

    Today, after a programme of near-total ethnic cleansing, the Arabs have succeeded in driving every last Jewish citizen out of most Arab countries and the few Jews who remain constitute less than one percent of pre-1948 Jewish communities, many of whom trace their ancestry in those countries back to antiquity.

    Israel absorbed Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries. These refugees and their descendants now number more than half of Israel’s Jewish population while many Palestinian refugees and their descendants continue to languish in camps in Arab countries, denied citizenship and other rights by their Arab brothers and deliberately kept in those conditions to foster hatred and oppostion to Israel and provide a source of anti-Israel propaganda for the terminally naive to swallow.

    Yet 20% of Israel’s population are Arabs enjoying full rights and freedom of religion.

    The above clearly demonstrates that it’s not the Israelis who are guilty of apartheid but their Arab enemies.

    As a rule the BBC steers carefully clear of these inconvenient facts and those who are glued to the BBC and imagine that they are being informed about the Israeli-Arab conflict need to understand that they are being manipulated and indoctrinated with incomplete and distorted information.

    That’s what the BBC does best.

    • There were Jews in Palestine relatively peacefully from about 1492 till 1900. But then Zionism started claiming Palestine for its own. It was Zionism and the British, not the Palestinian Jews, that led to the breakdown in relations.

      • Your “relatively peacefully” is wishful thinking. Study the history and you will find out how wrong you are.

        • I know a Palestinian jewish family who lived in Hebron relatively peacefully from 1500-ish till around 1900. “Relatively peacefully” is their term. They came to Palestine as refugees from Christian Europe. If you read “Ottoman Brothers” you will find many accounts of Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Palestine relatively peacefully till the beginnings of Zionism. (By ‘relative’, I mean it was better than in Europe. The climate was better too!: I bet the Zionists would not have had such an easy run if the Israeli climate had been like northern Europe.)

          Regarding your disbelief of Reuters, I can only say that they are the original source, which was the base for the (mis)quotations that you referred to. At the very least, you must admit that there is an uncertainty about the quotation you used.

          • There were Jews in Palestine relatively peacefully from about 1492 till 1900.
            Zefad massacare of 1834 prove you wrong. YOu parobably want us to belive that Jews lived peacefully in arab countries until zionism. that is not true.
            In 1011 in Cordoba, Spain, under Muslim rule, there were pogroms in which, according to various estimates, from hundreds to thousands were murdered. In 1066 in Granada, Yosef Hanagid was executed, along with between 4,000 and 6,000 other Jews. One of the worst periods of all began in 1148, when the Almohad dynasty came to power (al Muwahhidūn), and ruled Spain and North Africa during the 12th and 13th centuries.
            In 1033, in the city of Fez, 6,000 Jews were murdered by a Muslim mob.
            Algeria: A series of massacres occurred in 1805, 1815 and 1830
            It goes on and on the list is very long. So please don;t tell us that Jews lived peacefully.
            http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2009/05/ben-dror-yemini-the-jewish-nakba-expulsi/

          • Well, I guess it’s possible that Abbas would welcome one or two far-left wing Jews who believe that all would be sweetness and light if only Israel would withdraw to the ’67 lines (conveniently ignoring the Palestinian violence and rockets that followed just such a withdrawal on the Gaza side back in 2005) remove the fence/wall and allow free movement of Palestinians into Israel.

            Abbas would probably even welcome one or two members of Naturei Karta, that insane ‘religious’ Jewish cult that loathes Israel and even joined Ahmadinejad in Teheran to help him celebrate his Holocaust denial festival.

            I note you have cheerfully glided past any acknowledgement of Jordan’s Jew-free status – which it shares with several other Arab countries, which have ethnically cleansed their entire Jewish communities.

            Jordan is essentially the first Palestinian state. What makes you think Holocaust-denying Abbas would have a different approach to the presence of Jews in a second Palestinian state?

      • There is no reply button to your above post re Abbas, so I’m replying here. You believe Reuters if you like, I’ll believe my sources. I note you have nothing to say about the totally Jew-free Jordan. Note that Jews lived in Jordan before being killed and driven out by the Arabs.

        You give the Palestinians way too much credit. Like Jordan, which is 70% Palestinian, the Palestinians west of the Jordan River will not tolerate Jews in their future state.

        Do try not to be fooled.

  9. Kevin Connolly with his anti-Israel animus tries to draw a parallel between someone incarcerated unjustly for terrorism who was fighting against racism with a terrorist criminal of a racist variety who was never incarcerated for anything.

    Ah, the things that an anti-Semitic tradition combined with the guilt of an imperialistic legacy will drive men to.

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