BBC Monitoring puffs wind in the sails of professional anti-Israel campaigners

Readers who also visit the ‘Snapshots’ blog run by our colleagues at CAMERA will no doubt be aware of the recent story – as first reported by the Times of Israel on November 13th – concerning the publisher ‘Scholastic Inc.’ which inadvertently produced a map from which Israel was omitted in one of its children’s books. scholastic map.jpg

The company quickly rectified the situation, as reported by CAMERA:

“The publisher today expressed regret for the omission and announced that it is “immediately stopping shipment on this title, revising the map, and going back to reprint.” “

Five days later, on November 18th, the story was picked up by BBC Monitoring and placed in its “News from Elsewhere” section on the BBC News website. 

News from elsewhere Scholastic

Interestingly, part of the BBC Monitoring article focuses on reactions to the amended map provided by the publisher.

“However, the new map has opened a further can of worms for Scholastic, with readers engaged in a heated argument on whether the map should also include the Palestinian territories.”

Visitors who click on the link to Scholastic’s blog provided in the BBC article will soon realise that many of the writers of the comments there are not mere “readers” as they are described by BBC Monitoring, but veteran – and in some cases, professional – anti-Israel campaigners. 

First off the mark is Greta Berlin of the flotilla-organising, Hamas-supporting ‘Free Gaza Movement’ – perhaps more memorable for her promotion of antisemitic material on the internet.

comments scholastic 1

Berlin’s ‘Free Gaza Movement’ colleague Mary Hughes-Thompson (who goes by the name ‘Mariapalestina‘ on Twitter) appears to be next.

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Also popping in to visit was International Solidarity Movement activist Paul Larudee, who was among the organisers of the failed 2012 ‘Global March to Jerusalem’.

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There is also a comment apparently from Khaled Mouammar – former head of the controversy-plagued Canadian Arab Federation.

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Hanna Kawas is chair of the Canada Palestine Association.

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Readers will probably recognize additional names such as Jane Jewell, Kay von Riesen or Samir Twair in what is clearly a collection of comments resulting from a coordinated campaign.

tweet mary hughes free gaza

How curious it is that BBC Monitoring picked up this story at all, and all the more that it only did so after five days. How odd too that it specifically directs readers to a collection of comments made by anti-Israel campaigners. The question of course is whether or not the anonymous writer of the BBC Monitoring article actively sought to amplify the coordinated campaign of ‘Free Gaza’ et al, or whether he or she simply did not bother to do the research in order to find out what kind of voices the BBC would be promoting.

Related articles:

BBC interviewee’s support for Greta Berlin’s antisemitic videos

BBC shields audiences from antisemitism in Istanbul

On November 6th 2012, a Turkish court began its show trial of four former commanders of the Israeli security forces – in absentia – for their supposed role in the Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010. 

As was pointed out by a representative from the MFA:

“The so-called accused were not even informed or served or notified that they were going to be charged, which makes this one big puppet show” 

That fact is not reported in the BBC’s account of the opening of the obviously politically motivated trial, the eventual outcome of which is predictable to say the least.  In fact, the BBC article on the subject lends entirely unwarranted gravity and legitimacy to the proceedings. 

The BBC article also fails to relate in any way whatsoever to the antisemitic spectacle which went on outside the court on the first day of the ‘trial’ and which was obviously tolerated – if not encouraged – by the Turkish authorities.  

Under the EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism, one of its manifestations is:

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”

Gaza flotilla trial in Turkey

Protest in Turkey

Kahrolsun “Israil” translates as “Damn Israel”

In addition, the BBC fails to mention the involvement of the body which co-organised the 2010 flotilla (among others) – the terror connected Turkish organisation Insani Yardim Vakfi, also known as the IHH, and fails to inform its readers of the close connections between that organisation and the Turkish government, its long history of anti-Israel incitement and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories for which its leader has quite a penchant. 

IHH display outside the court in Istanbul

According to this report and others:

“Several hundred people, many wearing the Arab keffiyeh headscarf around their necks adorned with the Turkish and Palestinian flags, crowded outside the courthouse as witnesses and relatives of those killed in the raid began to arrive.

“Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine!” the crowd chanted as others held up a banner with the words: “What is the difference? Hitler = Israel.”

On a board erected outside the courthouse by IHH, the Islamic humanitarian agency that owns the Mavi Marmara, protesters scribbled the slogans: “Israel, your end is near”, “Down with Israel”, “The revenge of our martyrs will be bitter”.”

The IHH vice president, Huseiyn Oruc, himself a passenger on the Mavi Marmara and among the organisers of the 2011 flotilla and the 2012 Global March to Jerusalem  has been giving interviews on the subject of the ‘trial’. According to him: 

” “Turkey is the first country in the world that will take the unlawful Israeli actions to court.” He further called the trial “a very significant case because today will mark the day that the untouchable image of Israel will be damaged.”

“Referring to the case pending at the International Criminal Court upon the request of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) September 2010 report, which described Israel’s actions as “crimes against humanity,” Oruç claims that Israel “has been putting political pressure on the international courts” and the international community is waiting for the outcome of the trial in Turkey.” “

The political nature of the trial is further highlighted by the report that:

“…the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and a parliamentarian from France’s Greens Party will send observers to İstanbul and a group of orphans from Gaza will also be at the court.”

But the antisemitism on the streets of Istanbul is not the only manifestation of anti-Jewish racism to be airbrushed out of the information provided by the BBC on this ‘trial’. Below the article appear links to additional background reading and information.

In the name of accuracy and impartiality, it would of course be proper for the BBC to update its anodyne profile of the Free Gaza Movement to include the recent display of blatant antisemitism by its leader Greta Berlin, who is quoted in the BBC profile. So far – over a month after the incident – that has not been done.

One cannot, it is to be hoped, imagine the BBC ignoring public displays of homophobia or racism against people of colour outside an obviously politically motived show trial enabled and promoted by a group which campaigned against gays or black people, even if that group did insert the words ‘human rights’ into its title. 

It is precisely this sort of display of double standards which tarnishes the BBC’s reputation. 

 

BBC interviewee’s support for Greta Berlin’s antisemitic videos

As readers will no doubt remember, the BBC World Service saw fit to broadcast an interview with Gilad Atzmon on its ‘Weekend’ programme on October 14th 2012, in which the host Julian Worricker declared himself to be “intrigued” by the proudly antisemitic, Holocaust-denying jazz musician. Worricker even posted a photo of himself and Atzmon on the BBC World Service’s Facebook wall. 

Atzmon has not been shy about adding his voice to the fray which ensued after Greta Berlin of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ posted a video claiming that “Zionists operated the concentration camps” on the organisation’s official Twitter account.

(If you have not been keeping up with that rather tangled chain of events, it is documented here – part 1 – and here – part 2 – by Avi Mayer and is well worth reading in full.)

The Greta Berlin story broke on September 30th: two weeks before Atzmon’s World Service interview. By October 7th, Atzmon had come out in support of Berlin and her posting of the video, writing on his own blog:

“A few days ago Greta Berlin had been subject to a vile Israeli and Zionist smear campaign following her facebook post containing the following message: “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews”. ” …

“Zionists and Hasbara agents were very quick to slander Berlin. They tagged her as an ‘anti Semite’ and a ‘Holocaust denier’. But clearly there is no Holocaust denial in Berlin’s message..” ….

 “The meaning of it all is pretty simple. As I disclose in my latest book The Wandering Who, there is a devastating continuum between hard core Zionism, Israeli Hasbara and the Jewish so-called ‘left’. Unfortunately, some Palestinians also operate as Sabbath Goyim. And they better be exposed [sic].”

In other words, Atzmon regards attempts by those in the world of pro-Palestinian activism to clean up their movement’s act and dissociate it from racism and Holocaust denial as a “Zionist plot”. 

That information was available to BBC researchers and to Julian Worricker – who claimed during the interview to have read “both critics and supporters” of Atzmon – a full week before the programme was broadcast. 

And yet, despite Atzmon’s infamous history and his open support for a woman who promoted antisemitic material on the internet (including a 1943 Nazi propaganda film), Worricker elected to go ahead with the interview, not only failing to challenge any of Atzmon’s bizarre statements, but also with the dumbed-down presentation of his guest as a mere “controversial public critic of Israel”.

The employment of racism and Holocaust denial in order to delegitimize a nation for political ends does not fall into the category of ‘criticism’ and Atzmon’s rantings go far beyond Worricker’s theme of “music and politics”. 

More recently, on October 19th, Atzmon published another predictably odious piece – entitled “Jewish Domination? Occupation More Likely” and cross-posted at ‘Countercurrents‘ – in which he wrote of those opposing antisemitism and Holocaust denial:

“The recent attack on Free Gaza’s Greta Berlin and Colonel Ann Wright suggests that we have crossed a red line — Jewish domination within the Palestinian solidarity movement belongs to the past. We are now, it seems, under Zionist occupation, and we are subject to all the symptoms of Israeli abuse and Zionist brutality. The expulsions, the exclusions and the cleansings that are inherent within Zionism, Israeli and Jewish politics, are now alive and kicking within the Palestinian solidarity movement itself. ” ….

“The message here is clear – some elements within the Palestinian solidarity movement have obviously adopted the most repellent and brutal Zionist symptoms, and we are now engaged, caught up in, and beset by a sinister series of expulsions, purges, crude witch hunts, exclusions, smears, character defamations and cleansings.”

I would be very interested to hear whether Julian Worricker really thinks that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial constitute “criticism” of Israel (or anything else) and if he still stands by the decision to give air-time to a man who thinks they have a place in the pro-Palestinian movement. Mr Worricker is invited to contribute his thoughts to the discussion in the comments below.