The BBC, Bell and the blood libel

On January 29th 2013 the Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme brought in Stephen Pollard – editor of the Jewish Chronicle – and Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell to discuss the subject of Gerald Scarfe’s cartoon which was the subject of much objection when it appeared in the Sunday Times on Holocaust Memorial Day, and for which the paper’s owner Rupert Murdoch has personally apologized, as has its acting editor.  

Today 29 1

The entire programme can be listened to here or alternatively a podcast of the relevant section can be heard here.  

At 1:38 in the podcast Steve Bell says:

“I think apologizing for this cartoon, which in fact, for once, wasn’t a bad cartoon…I think Stephen Pollard invokes terms like ‘the blood libel’ and kind of genocidal hate rage, he’s attributing this to a cartoon which is actually, it’s sort of like a mirror image of the cartoon that Scarfe did the week before which was about President Assad doing exactly…I think it was clutching the head of a baby the week before which is even considered to be more offensive. Not a squeak about that.”

Not a squeak from the programme’s presenter either – who apparently saw no problem in Bell’s attempt to compare a cartoon of a dictator waging a civil war – which has claimed more lives in under two years that the entire Arab-Israeli conflict – with one of a democratically elected prime minister. Crucially, as Stephen Pollard pointed out on his Editor’s blog:

“It’s a fair point to say that the previous week Scarfe depicted Assad in a similar way, and he’s entitled to his view of Netanyahu, just as the Sunday Times are entitled to print it.

But there’s never been an anti-Alawite blood libel, and the context matters. The blood libel is central to the history of antisemitism.”

Bell goes on: [emphasis added]

“Ahm..the problem with the State of Israel and the – if you like – Zionist lobby is that they never acknowledge the crime of ethnic cleansing upon which the state was founded and that’s a permanent problem. It’s always going to be a difficult issue. It’s always going to set people at odds like this…”

No intervention from the presenter in the name of accuracy or impartiality there either. 

Bell continues:

“If you use the term blood libel as loosely and as ridiculously as that… the blood libel refers I think to a medieval belief that the Jews actually ate their own children – or ate Christian children – which is not actually a current..ahm…idea that’s abroad. Nobody’s actually saying…”

So now we learn that Bell, whom the BBC invited to talk about a cartoon judged by many to be offensive because it invokes the blood libel, does not actually know what the blood libel is. Needless to say, the presenter did not bother to correct Bell’s erroneous assertions on that point and neither did he trouble his audience – many if not most of whom will not have a clue as to what the blood libel is – with a factual explanation of its historic roots and modern interpretations. The BBC’s written ‘explanation’ of the term here also leaves much to be desired. 

BBC explanation blood libel

Later on Bell says: [emphasis added]

“The problem with this argument is, it’s extraneous notions like ‘blood libel’ and.. err.. are dragged in and sensitivities are talked up when there actually don’t….the very word antisemitic – it becomes devalued. They throw it around with such abandon and if there is real antisemitism, it’s actually getting ignored.”

Of course the audience is not informed who “they” are, but we do not need a cartoonist’s imagination to understand Bell’s intentions.

So what did Radio 4 audiences learn from Bell’s participation in this discussion? They found out that there’s a “Zionist lobby” that ignores “ethnic cleansing” of which Israel is guilty and that there is something called the blood libel which involves beliefs about Jews eating children. They also learned that “they” accuse people falsely of antisemitism, which may or may not be real, by invoking the term blood libel.

Had Radio 4 actually tried to get as many erroneous and offensive notions about Jews and Israel as possible into a seven minute item, it would have had difficulty topping this. And yet, the ‘Today’ presenter allowed Bell a free rein, at no point stepping in to correct his distortions. 

This broadcast yet again raises the subject of BBC interviewees who use the platform provided to them to promote untruths – either due to ignorance or as deliberate politically motivated propaganda. 

Can the BBC shirk its obligations concerning accurate and impartial broadcasting by hiding behind the defence that these are an interviewee’s opinions – no matter how wrong or offensive? Or does the BBC have an obligation to correct misleading assertions presented as ‘opinion’ in order to meet its own standards of accuracy and impartiality? 


87 comments on “The BBC, Bell and the blood libel

  1. I have complained very often to the BBC about bias towards Israel. I thought this brief debate was wonderful and refreshing. What is important is what was meant by the cartoon now, not what some people can interpret in it if they try hard. If you go along the route that says that any interpretation of something that causes offence should not be published then you will need to ban almost everything, because someone somewhere will find it offensive. even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz did not think the cartoon was anti-Semitic. cartoon are always cruel to make a point. Why should Netanyahu be exempt from that. his policies, continuing from those before, have brought untold misery to the indigenous Palestinians. You may disagree with me or about policies that hurt others in the USA or even Britain, but we are both entitled to our viewpoint and neither should be banned because of that.

      • I remember being sadly misquoted on that occasion. I had referred to verbal abuse, which is still abuse and not physical abuse and was, as I said misquoted. it can happen and does happen to many people who dare to speak out! That was not a false viewpoint, far from it, it was a misquote that made what was reported factually incorrect. Don’t play dirty now, because that is just a naughty tangent to deflect from the real issue!

      • Well spotted again Daphne. As in the last thread, a similar case of the children’s rhyme,
        “Adam and Eve and Pinch me went down to the river to bathe.
        Adam and Eve were drowned; who do you think was saved?”

      • You clearly did not listen to the programme. No one suggested the cartoon should be banned, in fact Stephen Pollard stressed that it shouldn’t, even though it was hateful and inaccurate.

      • Must we continue with this “indigenous people”? Until 1850, their savage, tribal internecine attacks were finally somewhat curbed by the new Ottoman regime. They made travel or life there most difficult.The nomadic Bedouin and the mountain villagers Moslem, Christian and Jewish were your indigenous people outside of Acco and Hebron. The coastal area was either malarial swamps or waste land. Useless. Do look at the 1911 Britannica.
        You will note that Negroes are alert to the use of the n….. word, and Jews have learned that if you let things slip by, things develop a life of their own. They’re not just being super sensitive, they’ve learned the consequence of giving the other cheek. Also, we should remember that Jesus was NOT a Christian; he was a Jew.

    • Seeing that the wall wasn’t built by Beebee the cartoon is nothing but a scurrilous attempt to turn the whole story on its head since the wall was built to save Israeli lives. That it discomforted the terrorists by depriving them of their prey and by depriving their families and friends of free access to a country that is not theirs was an ironic judgement.

      • My thoughts exactly. What makes this cartoon particularly reprehensible was the propagandist inversion of the genuine motives for building the wall. The wall SAVED lives rather than destroying them .

        Blood label aside, the cartoon strikes me as anti-Semitic because it depicts the Jew as the gleeful slaughterer and the Palestiinians as his innocent victims, when the truth is so often the opposite.

        A good cartoon should expose the truth. This cartoon siomply lies.

        No wonder that Bell thought it was a “good” cartoon: it reflects his own implacable anti-Israel bias – probably stemming from anti-Semitism.

    • Of course, cartoons and visual imagery can be interpreted in as many ways as there are people to interpret them. I have just submitted a paper about how cartoons of such as Steve Bell and Scarfe might reflect their unconscious processes. In other words they are unaware of the offence because the psychological/emotional undertow of what they have drawn either isn’t available to their consciousness or they choose to ignore it in the service of their need to project or displace.

      Cartoons are a short cut to the emotions. Goebbels knew that and so do the press throughout the Arab Middle East. Their cartoons chime with the introjected Jew-hatred there and reinforce it. That such a cartoon can be published at all here in the UK shows the extent to which antisemitism has become acceptable here.

      Therefore, it doesn;t bother me that Ha’aretz didn’t find it offensive. I did. It was beyond the pale of decency.

      This cartoon was cruel, and viscerally so. What point precisely did it make? Do you think that Jew-haters would take it literally or recognise the metaphorical nature of it? The notion of a protective wall cemented with people’s blood feeds haters’ prejudices and hatreds as well as shows Scarfe’s own dark, unconscious processes.

      And finally, ask yourself whether a cartoon showing Hamas leaders hiding behind a wall of dead women and children, all dripping cement “blood”, would result in the Sunday Times’ offices being firebombed, or outraged demonstrations. Given this proud boast by Hamas such a depiction would be a sight more apposite, and literally so, than the cartoon by Scarfe.

    • Miranda

      I was in Manchester on Sunday, was shown the cartoon while there, and then had a near-4hr drive home. It shouldn’t have taken that long but I found it difficult to concentrate after seeing those images on that day – of all days – and made several directional mistakes..

      So that’s my reaction to Scarfe’s cartoon. Now for the subject matter of this post. What is there to find ‘wonderful and refreshing’ about a man who clearly hasn’t a clue what the ‘blood libel’ means? Because from my perspective, isn’t that rather like saying you don’t care if he is inaccurate? Which in turn means facts do not matter providing the comments are presented in such a way as to agree with emotional perceptions?

    • ‘I have complained very often to the BBC about bias towards Israel’.

      Freudian slip?
      You didn’t complain about the bias AGAINST Israel, which is what any ethical person following real events would do.

    • The point of this carttons is that Bibi is killing innocetns palestinians . I guess you agree with that. by the way how many innocents palesitnian has Bibi killed in the last year?

      • No it isn’t – it claims that the security barrier is killing Palestinians. It has not killed a single Palestinian, and has saved the lives of many from Palestinian terrorists. I suspect it is this last point which upsets you.

        The cartoon isn’t just offensive – it is a lie.

  2. Isnt it strange when those that falsely demonize Israel for whatever reasons – jew hate, self hate et al..whenever their lies and falsehoods are pointed it out to them they often squawk of whatabouttery and “naughty tangents” – as apparently the truth is too painful.

    “even the Israeli newspaper Haaretz did not think the cartoon was anti-Semitic” – that made me and many others laugh i can assure you

    and since when has it has been bibi’s policy to build a wall with palestinian blood? – go back to hating yourself Miranda and leave those jews that dont hate themselves alone!

    • I doubt it’s a Freudian slip, I’d be willing to bet that she really DOES complain that the BBC is biased towards Israel.

  3. German Jews who converted and then became passionate supporters of the Nazis, often managed to escape the crematoria for months or even years.

    Not of course that I am drawing any kind of comparison with them and Miranda Pinch.

  4. I heard the interview with Bell and Pollard. Bell shouted down Pollard all the way through and showed himself as the bully and ignorant blowhard that he is. Hardly surprising he is so popular with guardianistas.

  5. “Or does the BBC have an obligation to correct misleading assertions presented as ‘opinion’ in order to meet its own standards of accuracy and impartiality?” When I have complained about similar cases in the past, the BBC has replied that it maintains impartiality by presenting opposing views in other programmes at other times. It does not have a clear idea of the distinction between fact and opinion, and in any case presenters never know enough about the facts to contradict interviewees. James Naughtie was clearly stunned this morning when a Likud MK, to whom he had been very rude and aggressive only seconds before, assured him that Netanyahu was ready to negotiate with the Palestinians at any time.

    • Sounds, at a Pinch, like a “Naughtie tangent” (see above).

      • A new Duvidl children’s rhyme is called for:

        Pinch and Naughtie, Pinch and Naughtie;
        On another Jew-hate sortie.
        Fatty James would hardly flinch,
        Should Mirry Pinch a Jew-hate inch.

        • I find it very sad indeed that instead of a reasoned response, all you are capable of is personal abuse! I may have a point of view that is different from yours, but I am as entitled to my perspective as you are and I would not dream of insulting you in the way that you and others have insulted me. So sad.

          • Of course you have a right to your point of view. But be aware that others may and will disagree with it as I have. Your opinions seem to be from the rarified atmosphere of a place where the actual nastiness and harm done by such imagery has never been confronted.

            Many who replied, myself included, have had to confront that flesh and blood nastiness and your argument that “everyone is entitled to a point of view” just doesn’t cut it when that point of view is hate-filled and designed to inciite . It’s almost as if you, like Steve Bell and others, are lecturing us that we are far too sensitive.

            Would you dare even to imply the same to the Muslims in the UK who have a hair-trigger sense of offence? I would bet not.

            Remember he who buries his head in the sand may leave his backside exposed for the kicking it deserves

            Yoav Gelber: This should be seen in the framework of postmodernism, where opinion replaces knowledge in intellectual life. This is at least partly an outcome of the communication revolution. People always had opinions. But who cared and who knew about their opinions? Today everyone has the possibility to express his opinion in blogs, opinion columns, talkbacks, Facebook, social networks and so on. And many of them have hardly any knowledge of facts and reality. This is a process that also has infiltrated history.

    • At least you have had the courtesy not to insult me, though sadly you still manage to insult my intelligence. Not only have I spent time in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories and have friends who are from all 3 Abramic faiths, but I have witnessed much for myself and have indeed had conversations with Muslims about the behaviour of those who give Islam a bad name. Unfortunately in all 3 religions there are many whose behaviour damages the image of the religion in others eyes. Islam does not have the monopoly on that.

      • Let me tell you Pinch, I think you are a revolting human being.
        Because you are somebody that should know better, but are far more interested in trying to make yourself safe, even if you have to sacrifice innocents to do so.

        The fence was built to stop terrorist attacks, and it has succeeded greatly in doing so. As an ex Jew, you should be aware of that. You might have switched to Christianity to feel safe, and now feel comfortable voicing anti-Israel sentiments to distance yourself from your origins, but if you follow Raymond Ibrahim’s account of Muslim Persecution of Christians, I’d be making a guess that you’ll soon be converting to Islam.

        Otherwise next time you’re in the Middle East take a visit to Egypt and speak out there about the rough time the Christians are getting there. Or somewhere similar where you won’t have protection from Israel. Instead of further demonizing the easy target of Israel to big yourself up.

        Tell us more about what a victim we’re making you with our insults.

        You make me sick!

  6. How many currently being killed in the name of islam?
    How many killed in the name of judaism?
    How many wars of extermination have jews waged?
    How many wars of extermination have jews faced?

    “you still manage to insult my intelligence” – from all the evidence on this page, it would be a darn hard job finding that so called intelligence before actually insulting it

    • Two wrongs have never made a right for a start. How many have been killed in the name of the USA? if you want to make number alone the issue. How many have been killed in the name of Christianity if you think about the Crusades and the treatment of both Muslims and Jews at their hands? The fact is that the Palestinians were innocent of the Holocaust and still are, yet seem to be collectively punished for it on a daily basis.

      • Miranda, what makes you say that the Palestinians are being collectively punished for the Holocaust? What historical facts – not emotions – are you claiming for that view?

        • If not for the Holocaust, then why was their land taken away from them and why is the remaining land either annexed or occupied by Israel and why do they suffer daily abuse at the hands of settlers and the IDF and why has the so-called security barrier been built largely on Palestinian land, cutting Palestinians off from their land, their schools, their hospitals and destroying their livelihoods and not actually acting as security for Israelis at all as it often places Palestinians on the wrong side of it, and why does Israel continue to take land for settlements that does not belong to it and I could go on and on, but I have had enough of this. I know that it is not just because of the Holocaust, but the other reasons are worse and this blog was not about them and I don’t want to start on all that. There has been no sensible discussion on this blog. Everything I say is met with personal insults and there seems to be no point in continuing.

          • She now pretends that all these claims are true and wants a history lesson to show how false her pretentious foul agenda is. This coming from somebody who one would expect already knows the real history, but prefers to adopt this stance.

            You’ve been told why you have met with the reaction you have. May you meet with your true deserts.

          • Miranda

            I have certainly not insulted you. Unless you hold that challenging your views is an insult.

            I am not sure if you are being disingenuous here, or if you really are so lacking in historical – both distant and recent – knowledge. The facts behind the creation of Israel – along with several other national boundaries and countries – pre-dates the Holocaust by more than two decades. The Palestinians, in their current form, did not exist before the 1960’s and, according to PLO military head, Zuheir Mohsen, were only ever a weapon in the fight to bring about the end of Israel. Look him up. His quote is widely published.

            Are Palestinians not at all culpable for the existence of the security barrier? Is it beyond them to accept some responsibility not only for the many, many suicide bombing attacks on Israeli citizens, but also for their on-going indoctrination and glorification of martyrdom? It would be grossly negligent for any government, not just that of Israel – to simply allow people with suicide bombs to access its citizens at will. It would also take a nation of people with varying degrees of mental illness to accept that at any time and in any place they could be blown up and must not seek to protect themselves in any way least it upset the sensibilities of others living several thousands of miles away.

            The world is now a different place. We cannot get on a plane without very stringent, sometimes humiliating, security checks. In the public space we are reminded to be vigilant. Why is security alright for us, but not for Israelis?

            Miranda, the Palestinians are regularly invited to negotiate a peace deal that would see this all come to an end. Do you have an explanation for why, if conditions are as dire as you suggest, that they do not take that obvious option?

          • Was there ever an independent plaesitnian state that we took its lands.
            actaully the leage of nation decided that plestine was to be the place for the Jewish to build their national home. it happan in San Remo1922 51 counteis all the leage of antions voted for it. Britian was supposed to take care that this will happan. Sadly we know they didn’t. United Nations Charter recognizes the UN’s obligation to uphold the commitments of its predecessor – the League of Nations.

          • Alexa. But did the people living on the land vote for it? If not, by what right did others impose their will on them?. Palestine was never a Nation State because Nation States are a Western invention and the land has been occupied many times over the years. It is the so-called civilized West that imposes its way of living on others who live differently. Drawing arbitrary lines on maps is a dangerous game, which of course leads to conflict. Just think about it. The old Arab way of tribal living is and was neither better not worse than ours. Their culture is different. Many Palestinians do actually posses the deeds to the land that Israel is taking from them. Just because there has not been an actual Nation State called Palestine as yet does not mean that there were and are not indigenous people called Palestinians living on land that has been known as Palestine for a very long time. Human beings with the same needs and who should be given the same rights as anyone else, not treated as outlaws on their own land.
            if you choose to reply to this, please start a fresh line as it ig getting very difficult to find anything new unless it is at the end.

          • Pinch, there are many Jews in Israel who hold the deeds to their property in Arab lands, but I don’t see you crying for them.

          • ‘Living on the land’, well, then why so nationalistic? Only Arabs are entitled to live on the land? Aren`t we all humans entitled to live without borders and limitations? Why so restrictive when it comes to Jews?
            Anyway, ‘the land’ belonged partly to the Osman Empire, partly to Osman Effendis and Beys, partly to religious charities, partly to Arab notables, and partly to nobody.
            Your prejudices are no facts.
            ‘The old Arab way of tribal living is and was neither better not worse than ours. Their culture is different.’
            So let`s forget about civil rights, human rights, woman rights, female genital mutilation practised by a lot Arab tribes is just cultural different, neither better nor worse according to your ‘wisdom’.
            Some tribes are still practising fgm in Yemen and Saudi-Arabia.
            Interesting difference.
            There are other fascinating differences like slaves instead of paid workers, blood relations instead of individual liberalism, honour instead of respect and law, …
            Your difference is the gap between law of the jungle and civil law.

      • Not exactly – Haj Amin al Husseini wholly supported the Holocaust, even touring the death camps. Plans were drawn up for Palestinian SS units and a death camp for Jews near Nablus (al Husseini was instrumental in setting up Bosnian Muslim SS units which went on to commit massacres and atrocities). He also exhorted Hitler to expedite the Holocaust.

        Al Husseini was the Palestinian Arab leader, and spent the war in Berlin. So spare me your ignorance. It is offensive.

        By the way, according to Pew, 97% of Palestinians hold antisemitic views.

  7. No…Miranda.. the “palestinians” were not innocent of the holocaust… a quick google of Grand Mufti + Hitler shows you the ‘innocence’ and who said two wrongs make a right.. i was pointing out the absurdity of comparing faiths and behaviour in faiths. ..still waiting for signs of this so called intelligence.. i never mentioned Christianity….. BTW – Crusades were in the dark ages…. the same place Islam is ……….. and BTW mark 2 – Collective punishment….?!?!?! by whom? its leaders who pocketed their monies, by fellow arabs that keep them in 3rd class citizen status and refugee camps or by Israel where ARABS ENJOY LONGER, HEALTHIER, and WEALTHIER LIVES with MORE DEMOCRATIC, SEXUAL and RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS THAN ANY OF ITS NEIGHBOURS

    • Whatever the truth is about one man, are you telling me that all Germans are to blame for Hitler any? It is a sad reflection on your attitude that all Palestinians should be punished for a controversial possible connection by one man. And why is one thing considered in he past and another not? I have had enough of this. This has not been a sensible debate about the subject in hand at all. I will however reply to one other post .

      • Any ‘punishment’ the Palestinians have endured has mostly followed as a result of their own agenda. There’s no doubt that there are peace desiring Palestinians who detest their ‘rulers’ for how they have run things, but they cannot speak out for fear of reprisal. The likes of you ignoring the actions of these terrorist groups increases suffering for ALL innocents on both sides.

        I doubt you truly have a religious bone in your body, you are a self-serving vile being.

        Like I said – you make me sick!

      • Collectively, Germans were not responsible for the Holocaust, Miranda. But the manner in which they sleepwalked into the nightmare that descended on their nation should be a wake-up call to us all. There are very real human factors that brought about this nightmare, one of which was the slow, corrosive effect of propaganda. The Germans were – and are – among the most well-educated and cultured in Europe and beyond – just look at the philosophers, scientists, composers and artists this nation produced. And yet so very many fell for the propaganda and if they can, so can we. This is why, when we see even the slightest hint of it cropping up in our own country, we must call it out for what it is. Let’s not turn blind eyes and wait until Jews are fleeing.

        The Middle East is alive with exactly the same Nazi propaganda: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, cartoons discernible from the Nazi cartoons only by being made a little more up-to-date and hate-fuelled rhetoric – often coming from Palestinian leaders and MP’s. You can find it on YouTube Miranda, and if you’d like more specific information I’ll be happy to pass it on to you.

        • Propaganda aside, let me point you toward information regarding three further ‘human factors’ that enable atrocities like the Holocaust to occur.

          Read psychologist Stanley Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority; Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment, and watch the film ‘The Wave’ (the German version Die Welle – with English subtitles – is the best version). All three are true examples of how vulnerable we are and how, in certain circumstances, we are all capable of extra-ordinary and quite awful behaviour.

          Incidentally,you don’t actually need to read any of the above – you can find all three on YouTube, bar the German version of The Wave. The 1981 American production is available, but, in my view, not terribly good.

          • Hi. I will very briefly respond to this. I am well aware of all that you are telling me about. My point was that you cannot blame all present day Germans for the past yet they are more to blame than the inhabitants of the land that has been known as Palestine for a very long time (and I am not prepared to get into any more discussions on that point). Only one Palestinian name can possibly be put on the table as in any way connected with the Holocaust, though there is some dispute even over that one person. Many responses to me have been based on taking things out of the context of this ‘discussion’ and yours has been an instance of that.

          • Miranda – I really and genuinely do not understand what your point is or where anything has been taken out of context. Responses are to points you have made!

            My point is very relevant because Scarfe’s cartoon, along with much of the ahistorical information you are presenting, feeds antisemitism, expressed as anti-Israeli sentiment. This is on-topic.

            I honestly feel that, in casting the blame solely on one side – and you clearly do – you are cause-driven. But unless the failings of BOTH sides are addressed then the outcome we all want – a peaceful resolution to a conflict – is still too far away.

          • Penny you truly have made some excellent posts to Pinch, as have others. It should be clear to all here from this and the other threads where she has posted that she is not interested in the truth or facts of the issues referred to.

            She wants to pretend that she has engaged in genuine debate, so she can refer to this site with her ‘mates’ and show how she has stood side by side with her ‘poor Palestinians’.

            That’s her agenda, for her own selfish purposes.

          • Ok Pennylan. The point I was trying to make originally is that the Palestinians were not to blame for the Holocaust, yet seem to be collectively punished for it continually by having their land and resources systematically taken from them. I, of course realise that many Zionists and others have made home in that area of land well before then, but this blog was very much to do with the Holocaust and that is why I have majored on it. It is a rather multi-faceted subject! I along with others including Scarfe himself do not believe the cartoon to be anti-Semitic. You can disagree with him and me, but even Haaretz, an Israeli Newspaper does not find it to be anti-Semitic. Scarfe, along with all cartoonists, mock world leaders in all sorts of gruesome ways and our own are very much included. I have also said elsewhere clearly that I do not believe that anyone has the moral high-ground. Not Israel, not the USA, not Britain nor many countries in the Middle East, nor African States or China or India and I could go on…… I can’t as yet refer to the Nation of Palestine sadly. Now Israel is always telling us that it does not have a partner for peace. Imagine that you have a home in an acre of ground somewhere in England. Now imagine that most of your land is compulsorily taken by the government for homeless asylum seekers, for which you are not even compensated. Then imagine further that other asylum seekers come and squat in your home and while you are trying to go to court about it to evict them, you are told that you have to allow them to pull down your walls and build a new block of flats on your land and there is nothing you can do about it.

            I am certain that you and others will find my analogy either offensive or stupid, but just think about it before you or others attack me again. How would you feel especially as any action you take to try to get your land back is met with accusations of terrorism and with violence from the asylum seekers. Your fruitless attempts might be silly and self-defeating, but no one will help you and if you wait for negotiations as the asylum seekers demand, without any pre-conditions, then by the time anything might be achieved there will be nothing left of your land or possessions. That is the way it looks for many Palestinians and for those trying to support them.

            I have bothered to try this analogy because your comments seem reasonable so i will try it out. If this attempt of explaining my position is met with the sort of insults I have so far received then I will give this blog up again because it is pointless and exhausting!

          • Miranda

            Rather than respond to your points here – the space is becoming quite thing – I’ll post my answer below the last (i.e. below The News’ comment)

  8. yes – whatever the truth is – and yes the germans of 1930 do bear responsibility in the same way the arabs of the hebron, safed massacres (long before 1948) bear responsibility – Google San Remo, google Balfour Declaration…. and then maybe you could enlighten me as to whom the land was ‘stolen’ from ?!?!? your ignorance is spellbounding…. the self hatred that consumes you is making you sound like an ignorant jew hater….better to shut up and let everyone think you a fool than open your mouth and let everyone KNOW you are a fool…….. your warped view of history bears no resemblance to the actual facts that i and others are kindly pointing out to you.

  9. Duvidl has now been informed that he mis-pronunced James’ name in his “Pinch and Naughtie” poem above. James apparently prefers “Nochtie” as in the Scottish pronunciation of “loch” or the Yiddish word “schloch.” Just a minute; that gives Duvidl an idea for the necessary re-write, as follows:

    Pinch and Naughtie

    Pinch and Naughtie; Pinch and Naughtie.
    Both Jew-haters; both are schloch-ty.
    Pipe a lament, all pibroch-ty.
    Send them both to Auchtermuchty.

  10. Duvidl has come up with a second verse:

    When giving Jew-haters that pinch
    We know who they would rather lynch
    And on a crane in Tehran winch.
    But lynch the Pinch? Sure, it’s a cynch.

  11. Miranda

    The picture you paint of people dispossessed by asylum seekers is in your own head. It’s emotionally appealing but historically false. .

    I don’t want to start writing history lessons, Miranda, but what is your understanding of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British and French Mandates and the creation of Jordan? What is your understanding of the war of Independence and the aims of the Arab nations that waged it? What is it about the creation of Israel that is different about, say, the creation/boundary establishment of any of the countries that emerged from the Ottoman Empire? If you challenge Israel’s right to emerge as an autonomous country, then you must challenge the right of the others that also came into being.

    This re-jigging didn’t just occur in the ME, Miranda – it happened also in Europe and, in later years, in India.

    • Yes, of course you are right about the rejigging of other people’s land that is not just about Israel and I do not and have not questioned the right of Israel to exist. What I am saying is that Israel was created, as other countries have been, on land belonging to others, so the very foundation was an obvious cause of resentment even if you don’t go down the Nakba route. But now Israel is taking just about everything else as well. No doubt you will attempt to justify that, but the fact is, whether you accept it or not, Israel is continuing to break both International Law and human rights law. You cannot expect those whose land and resources are being systematically taken and whose lives are being made a misery by Israel’s occupation of the rest of their land, to just accept the Status Quo. Can you not put yourself into their shoes at all?

      • Miranda, I’m not ‘justifying’ anything. I’m simply trying to apply common sense and facts, rather than emotion.

        You say that Israel is taking ‘just about everything else’ – but what, exactly, is it taking? It has already given so much back in the cause of peace. In signing the deal with Sadat, for example, it returned the $1 billion Alma oilfield that supplied so much of the country’s energy needs. In returning Gaza it simply created a worse situation. Israel isn’t simply beating-up on Palestinians because it’s just that way inclined – a peculiarly wicked people inclined to peculiarly wicked ways.

        International law is, in my view, a lazy, recourse. It sounds impressive but few can cite the specifics of the law that they are accusing Israel of breaking. Ditto the human rights laws which, as per my last post, seem rather lacking in their application when it comes to the PA torturing to death their fellow countrymen (see Parliamentary EDM 1379). Do you ever check to see which body is making these accusations?

        Miranda – my husband’s family are Egyptian and were expelled from their country along with nearly a million others from the surrounding Arab world. All they had was taken from them – their homes, bank accounts, personal items – even their jewellery. They were allowed to take two suitcases of clothes but not a single Egyptian coin, note or anything of value. They had to start all over again. It never occurred to them to do anyhing but pick themselves up and get on with the task of creating a new life for their family – not a one of whom has ever considered blowing him or herself up in the course of re-claiming their spot of land in Egypt. They aren’t unique. Millions of people have had the same experience across the world.

        This isn’t whataboutery. It’s that I think the current pro-Palestinian movement is working against the real interests of the Palestinian people. By constantly focusing on the Israelis, it allows the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership to continue. It maintains the belief that they will one day reclaim all of the land and drive the Jews out. That is the aim, Miranda, and the Palestinian leaders are not terribly shy about saying it.

        • I totally agree that the Palestinian leadership is not helpful. Most Palestinians will agree on that one! If they got together and acted in a more unified way they would achieve a great deal more. That is self-evident.
          Israel never totally left Gaza. When one Nation controls the air, the sea and the entrance and exist to another group of people, not allowing them freedom of movement, cutting them off from other Palestinians, refusing both many imports and exports and making them have to resort to tunnels to survive, then that is hardly handing very much back. Before you accuse Egypt of not opening its border, like all this ‘discussion’, the politics are much more complicated then that and Israel gives them good reason, which took me a while to understand.
          As I have said many times, it is Israel that keeps on breaking the cease-fires and not Hamas, though I agree firing rockets out is self-defeating. A united front would achieve more. As I have already also said I don’t agree with violence whoever initiates it.

          This blog consists almost entirely of those who have a particular point of view that will not be altered by anything that I say. As a lone voice and having spent too much time here already, accepting a lot of abuse along the way, I really think that my time will be better used in other ways. So at the risk of more accusations I will bow out. yes, I did before and came back when I had a reasonable exchange with someone, but being a lone voice on this particular blog is rather exhausting. You are not going to convince me any more than I can convince you so I might as well turn elsewhere. Thanks. It is always good to hear what others have to say.

          • Miranda – should you return.

            I am going to be quite blunt – which is different from insulting. I think you have internalised and romanticised this conflict. You have offered ideologly and opinion in place of facts and evidence. When difficult questions have been asked you seem not to answer them. When the evidence you’ve requested is made available, you seem not to respond to it. You won’t change minds, not because minds are closed, but because people commenting here are very knowledgeable and aren’t interested in romantic opinions.

            Israel has left Gaza – it’s Gaza that won’t leave Israel. You always speak of Palestinians as if they are spoilt children, unable to grasp the fact that if they stopped misbehaving they’d stop having to face the consequences. The definition of racism, as I understand it, is when one views a group of people as inferior.

            You know Gaza has been – and will be again – the launch pad for tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli citizens. Your concern appears to be why Israel should have the temerity to protect its people from these rockets. You seem to believe a perfectly legal blockade should be ended, which of course will facilitate the import of more weapons, making more war. As for the nonsense about tunnels. I’ll repeat my previous view – if conditions are as dire as you maintain, despite decades of aid (and where has the money gone?) then why do they not agree to live in peace? If you support this on-going war, Miranda, please don’t fool yourself that you are working in the interests of love and peace. You are supporting those who openly state that their aim is genocide.

          • Penny I offer you a HUGE BEAR HUG 🙂
            You’ve done a terrific job of presenting the facts that any even and open minded person will find revealing. That it was wasted on the likes of Pinch could be seen from the start. Her agenda was clear.

            Have a shower, then a nice drink. I’ll buy you one any time 🙂

          • All I will say in response is that from my perspective I could say exactly the same to you about your views. There are many people like you who genuinely believe the things you say and there are many like myself who could just as easily refute what you believe with lots of links and facts and figures. You will go on believing that I am deluding myself, that I am romantic, a soft touch or whatever you like. The difference between us is that, while I disagree with you, I will not suggest that you are somehow lacking in common sense or intellect or are soft in the head. In fact speaking to you in this way has been a useful exercise for me once we got past the worst of the personal abuse from others. I have friends who think entirely differently from me yet we appreciate each other as individuals and can celebrate the differences. It is true that neither me nor my friends tend to use those beliefs to attack or vilify anyone else or to justify our claims. Sometimes discussing things with those of opposite views is helpful and sometimes it is necessary for both sides to just feel sad and walk away. That is what I need to do right now, because this is not actually getting either of us anywhere.

          • ‘…I could say exactly the same to you about your views.’
            You can say what you like, the difference is that Penny offered facts, ethics, morality, and reality to back hers up, not an AGENDA to follow a particular path because she sees it as beneficial to herself – like YOU.

            We saw you coming, and new what you were about. You thought you’d jerk us around for a while, whilst claiming to be a victim. WE SEE YOU and KNOW WHO YOU ARE. The fact that there are many like yourself is a reality, and you won;t be alone – but we would say – you deserve each other.

            Time and Karma will teach you that.

          • Miranda
            This thread is now drawing to its conclusion. I don’t ‘genuinely believe’ – I’ll leave that to you. I prefer facts and evidence to ‘belief’.

            Look – as I have pointed out, I do know what the life of a refugee is like. I married into a family who weren’t moved twenty miles up the road but thousands of miles from all they’d ever known. They arrived penniless and with two suitcases of clothes. The language was alien; the culture alien; even the weather was a shock. But I know that had they had this awful permanent refugee / permanent victim status, maintained by those who believe they’re doing the right thing, their lives would be very different from what they have today. The term ‘killing by kindness’ springs to mind here.

            By contrast, what those who support the Palestinians seem to do is to encourage them to remain exactly where they are, doing what they’ve done for the last seven decades. Never moving forward, only ever staying in a place where – and this is the bottom line, Miranda – the Jews have to be defeated. In that support some – and I’m not saying you are one of them – encourage war and bloodshed. Those who support flotillas, flytillas and global marches aren’t actually involved in them. For the most part they’re cheerleading and supporting violence – but from the safety of their armchairs thousands of miles away. How many more generations are going to suffer because of those who consider themselves well-intentioned or who view this conflict as if it were a football match?

            Morality isn’t lineal or simple. It really isn’t a question of ‘big’ versus ‘small’ or maintaining that the man with the gun is more moral than the man with the tank. Too many people – and again, I am not saying you are one of them – project their own past suffering onto people like the Palestinians. I recently listened to a speech given by a Jordanian Palestinian who,said that his people are the most used people in the world, serving the needs of too many, for so many reasons. I couldn’t help but agree with him.

          • Teddy Beer
            I think I might be more of a Galilee Gal. Or possibly a Jeruslame-ite. But what the hell, a white wine spritzer is a white wine spritzer, no matter where I drink it!

          • I already posted that, but Pinch gives such a perfect example for it

            Yoav Gelber: This should be seen in the framework of postmodernism, where opinion replaces knowledge in intellectual life. This is at least partly an outcome of the communication revolution. People always had opinions. But who cared and who knew about their opinions? Today everyone has the possibility to express his opinion in blogs, opinion columns, talkbacks, Facebook, social networks and so on. And many of them have hardly any knowledge of facts and reality. This is a process that also has infiltrated history.

            She avoids facts, reason and history but resorts to tell-tale. An oriental fantasy world, that is.
            As she mentiooned her stay in Hebron, she does not even know anything about the ethnic cleansing there, or as we use to say, pogrom.

          • It was an excellent interview, Fritz. I’d also say that ’emoting’ has a part to play.
            Some time ago I spoke to a very liberal-minded and intelligent lady who had opinions about the I/P conflict. Except she new almost nothing about it. Truth be told, I got the distinct impression that she didn’t know Gaza from West Bank, nor who the PA were. Even so, she *felt* on a emotional level, that it had to be Israel in the wrong.

          • pennylan: I recently listened to a speech given by a Jordanian Palestinian who,said that his people are the most used people in the world, serving the needs of too many, for so many reasons. I couldn’t help but agree with him.

            Got a copy of that speech (text or video)? I wouldn’t mind reading/watching it myself.

          • @ pennylan
            .. that ‘emoting’ has a part to play.
            Yes, the great imagination that produces the necessary emotions has its origins in a sucessful propaganda which fuses right-extrmist revisionism, sowjet antizionism, third world post colonialism and the memory of the holocaust.
            This extraordinary development is the normalization of a perverted thinking, the depicting of Israel as Nazi state, Apartheid state, as state excluded from the normality of international rrelations and rules,
            accompanied by Arab and Islam interests led theft of the Jewish status as Holocaust victim, whether by denial of the Holocaust or by claiming the status for the Palestinians.
            It is an despicable, but dangerous attack on truth, reason, the Holocaust memory throughout the world, not only spread by Islamists, but by the cultural leftist elite of the west, too, to which many Jews belong, like Judt, Butler, Chomsky, …
            I wonder if those Jews thought and think that they can have a decent live among ‘Antizionists’ by tearing apart the solidarity which ties all Jews by the memory of the Holocaust whatever their religious, personal and family histories are.
            For some it might be fear and survival, for others social climbing, career and social inclusion to behave like ‘I as A Jew’ and give cover for hate against the Jewish state, some are just mentally challenged.

  12. I don’t think anyone is attacking you per se, Miranda. It’s just that you do seem to have a version of this conflict that stands at odds with the facts.

    But I do have a question of my own. For many years I worked with disenfranchised and/or deprived young people and so I do have a particular aspect of Palestinian society that both troubles and moves me. In all that you write about Israeli intransigence, why do you not mention the indoctrination into hatred that occurs in the Palestinian territories by Palestinian leadership? This is quite plainly child abuse and leads to hatred of others and, in layman’s terms, extremely messed-up minds. This is done by Palestinians to the most vulnerable members of their society.

    I’d also like to point out that in this indoctrination, it does rather seem as if the Palestinians are playing the long game – as opposed to seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict and establishing their own fully-functioning state. Why else raise children to see martyrdom as a positive and Jew hatred as a necessity?

    • I have spent 3 months in Hebron and have many contacts among both Palestinians and Israeli Human Rights groups and I can tell you that what you are describing is not in my experience. Have you a source for your generalization about Palestinian education?. In the same way that extremist elements in Israel are causing problems for Israeli so extremist elements in Palestine also cause problems. That is universal. To always tar all Palestinians with the same brush while not allowing me to do the same with Israeli is wrong. I know that Israeli society consists of many and various perspectives. The same applies to the Palestinians, most of whom I know just want peace and their human rights respected. Most don’t even care whether it is one state or two as long as they are allowed the same rights as everyone else and what is more, most would live side by side with Israeli settlers, if those settlers treated them and their land with respect and the same rights. That may surprise you, but it is true, not of all, but of many. Israel’s policies are actually self-defeating where security is concerned, because if you oppress people enough then they will fight back or at least some of them will.

  13. Third verse of above poem:

    You’ll find if you Pinch Miranda,
    To her bigotry you’ll pander.
    Jew-hating’s her stock-in-trade.
    “Social work”; taxpayer-paid.

  14. On the matter of antisemitism, I wonder if anyone can tell me how the Holocaust is taught in schools?

    The reason I ask is that my friend’s son was shown the film “The boy in the striped pajamas’ – which seems reasonable given his age. But what of older children? Films of this genre are only one side of the scale – the other being human nature and situational forces. I’m also wondering if people don’t recognise the emergence of antisemitism because in the films they see and books they read, their familiarity and understanding of antisemitism is limited to its products.

    • I do not know if teaching in Great Britain includes the Holocaust.
      In Austria it depends on the schools and teachers, and on subventioned programs by the towns, regions or the state, aimed at pupils.

  15. Pingback: David Ward Steve Bell and Israel | OyVaGoy! (Chas Newkey-Burden)

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