‘Hardtalk’ presenter gets reality check from Khaled Masha’al

On February 7th and 8th 2013, BBC Two and BBC News broadcast an edition of the flagship interview show ‘Hardtalk‘ from Doha with Khaled Masha’al as its guest. 

Part one: 

Part two: 

It is worth watching the whole interview – if only to see Khaled Masha’al try to disavail Stephen Sackur of a few obviously dearly-held illusions concerning Hamas.

At 2:13 Sackur says:

“[…] but what I am interested in is the nature of the language you used when you went to Gaza afterwards [after Operation Pillar of Cloud]. For example, you said ‘Palestine is ours from the river (the Jordan River, that is) to the sea. There will be no concessions of any inch of land’ you said. It was the most hard-line speech and yet it doesn’t actually fit with the rhetoric that you and other Hamas leaders have used at different times in the last year, so what is going on?”

Interrupting Masha’al’s reply at 3:27, Sackur goes on to say:

“Yeah, but hang on. If you’re saying that it [Masha’al’s Gaza speech] was just natural emotion, are you telling me that it was nothing more than symbolism – it’s not something that should be taken seriously in terms of the politics of any future negotiation?”

Masha’al continues to try to explain, but at 04:31 Sackur interjects:

“But I just want to nail down what your current position is on the question of a two state solution to provide a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Saudi newspaper Al Sharq reported just the other day that you are now prepared to accept a two state solution. You have told this, according to the newspaper, to King Abdullah and you’ve asked King Abdullah to…of Jordan…to relay this message to President Obama. Is that true?”

Masha’al replies unequivocally:

“This is not true.” 

In fact, various Hamas officials had denied the report by Al Sharq a whole week before the ‘Hardtalk’ programme was broadcast and four days before it was recorded

Sackur goes on to suggest to Masha’al that Hamas cannot achieve reconciliation with Fatah or join the PLO if it refuses to accept a two state solution. Apparently he is not sufficiently able to read between the lines of Masha’al’s reply – or to relinquish romantic notions about Fatah – in order to appreciate that in fact, among the obstacles to Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, that issue is far from being the greatest stumbling block.  

The question which naturally arises from this interview is whether there will now be any sort of reappraisal by the BBC as regards the topics it frequently presents as obstacles to peace

But perhaps the most telling part of the interview, as far as the BBC is concerned, comes at the beginning when Masha’al gives his view of the recent conflict. 

“It was Israel that started the aggression when they assassinated the martyred leader Ahmed al Jabari at a time when Egypt was seeking a truce”

“Netanyahu did not think about the war. He just wanted to have a tactical victory over Hamas and the resistant [sic] in Gaza in order to exploit such victory in these elections.”

Those two claims are of course identical to the BBC’s line of reporting throughout and after Operation Pillar of Cloud in which it repeatedly promoted both the ‘Israel started it’ and the ‘it’s all in aid of the Israeli elections’ themes.  

Is the BBC really comfortable with the fact that the proverbial cigarette paper cannot be inserted between its own reporting and the propaganda of a racist terrorist organisation?

51 comments on “‘Hardtalk’ presenter gets reality check from Khaled Masha’al

  1. Thanks for downloading Hardtalk. From outside the UK I can only get the audio version.

    In fairness, after Meshaal went on about the “martyr,” Sackur did say that he didn’t want to get into the who started what argument re the Gaza war.

    Obviously he has to play devil’s advocate since it’s the nature of the show but I suspect his politics falls in line with the standard anti-Israel BBC stance.

    A few years back he interviewed Saeb Erekat, the one who cannot open his mouth without appealing to the “international community to help the Palestinians against big bad Israel and has the manipulation of Western guilt down to a fine art. As I recall he treated Erekat more roughly than Meshaal, accusing him of selling out Hamas (and by implication the genuine Palestinian cause) by negotiating with the US and Israel.

    Sackur looked untidy and unprofessional with his messy hair and the occasional scratching of his cheek. Must be a bit of a strain trying to maintain “impartiality” between a major terrorist organisation and the civilised, democratic state it vows to destroy.

    I’ve seen a lot worse from the BBC. He put questions to Hamas I would not have expected from the BBC, like the source of its weapons and weakening of the relationship between it and Iran and Syria.

  2. I agree with True too.. there were some questions i didnt think the BBC would ever ask… although one can only imagine what was edited out according to the bbc line that it was the joos that do everything.

    • I think Sackur is trying to model himself on Tim Sebastian, who really didn’t pull any punches when he did the programme. At one point he dropped his voice a bit, sounding exactly like Sebastian.

  3. Sackur is unfit to be a journalist. Here Masha”al is being candid and Sackur is trying to get Masha”al to change his statements. HOW MANY TIMES DO THE PALESTINAN LEADERSHIP HAVE TO SAY THERE CAN BE NO PEACE BEFORE THESE PC JERKS BELIEVE THEM!

    • Well said @EthanP M overriding sense was one in which Sackur was trying his damnedest to get Mashaal to run the line Sackur wanted to present and unfortunately for him his guest was not going to oblige!

      • Thankyou; Perhaps you can explain to me why these PC type refuse to believe what the Islamist’s say. Over and over again. At least Chamberlain had the excuse that he was used to dealing with gentlemen, not lying thugs. But now they should know better.

        • I cannot explain that for if I could I would solve the problem. However Lord Rees-Mogg once wrote and article in I think the Sunday Times about the British reverence for all things Arab because he said they viewed them to be inferior. The result is that the British feel they can laud it over what they perceive to be the heathen Arab whereas they cannot over the Jew as the Jew bows to no-one. I am paraphrasing this rather badly, but it is the gist of his discussion – unfortunately I cannot find the article on the internet and my copy was sent to my Father who has since died. I’ll continue to search for it as he surely understood the basis of this problem as far as British antagonism to Jews can be explained.

          • Yes the Brits have always been antisemitic.Now lets see? There’s the so-called “Balfour Declaration” in 1917 and the recommendations of the Peel Commission.in 1937.
            Then the cute way in which they put down the Arab revolt in ’36.
            Not forgetting the amazing finesse displayed in leaving the field free for Begin and his Stern buddies in May 1948 as they scurried home for afternoon tea.
            And last but not least a little matter of conspiracy in 1956.
            Oh and did you know that Lord Rees-Mogg actually believed the Hitler Diaries were genuine!

          • I assume you are talking about the rising tide of antisemitism which engulfed the British Forces as they strove to disengage from a very nasty and messy conflict. True but,if you just concentrate on a small period of time and the exceptional circumstances of that time, you can lose track of the bigger picture. The British perception of Zionism was given a slap in the face by the activities of the Irgun and the Stern Gang. These operations were deemed to be the purest form of terrorism on offer at the time.There was a real perception that the Zionists had reneged on an accomodation which had effectively sidelined the Arabs since the beginning of the Mandate. There were troops serving in Palestine who had witnessed the horrors of Belsen and fought their way across Europe to make sure that it never happened again! That doesn’t mean that British antisemitism was justified at the time but,given the circumstances perhaps understandable. As for the question of Immigration quotas the British Authorities were engaged  in a global conflict and in Palestine they were caught between a rock and a hard place. Yes they could have done more as could all the Dominions,the European Neutrals and above all the Americans.You can’t blame the immigration policy on antisemitism alone.There was a world-wide lack of compassion towards European Jewry at the time. Israel would probably not exist today without the Balfour Declaration and the extensive support given to the fledgling Aliyah prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 1939.  Perhaps the most critical  episode in this period was the really quite ferocious crushing ( masterminded by Montgomery) of the Arab revolt 1936-38. It is a fact that the Palestinian Arabs were a spent force after Montgomery had finished with them and this was of incalculable benefit to the Israeli Defence forces in the final period of conflict.


          • The Balfour Declaration was not due to any altruistic attitude by the British. It was the price Ezer Weitzman asked for saving the British Empire in WW2. As a renouned chemist he developed a process for producing nitrates needed for ammunition production. There was nothing pro Jewish about it. Look him up on line. And I still wonder why someone who insists he’s not an anti-semite spends so much time, effort and research denouncing Israel. It’s one thin to claim they’re not so nice, but you NEVER mention Palestinian attrocities. And they are many, public and boastfull statements about such. You should Google them.

          • I think your getting your wires crossed. The Balfour Declaration was made in 1917! The Declaration would have come to nothing without the active and vocal support of David Lloyd George and a certain Mr .Winston Churchill! At least 23 years before he took on the premiership he was enthusiastically extolling the virtues of a Jewish Homeland. Weizmann was unflagging in his attempts to influence the British Cabinet.in this and  he was given every encouragement by Churchill and others. Weizmann was never satisfied and always complaining but he knew where his friends resided. Conveniently right at the heart of the British Empire.! As for his efforts in the war. Nobody would dispute his contribution but it wasn’t done as a favour! There was a common enemy to defeat! So convinced were the Zionists of this,they agreed to suspend ( with the exception of the Stern Gang) what was effectively a guerilla war against the colonial power for the duration. Just because there is a vocal and active anti-Israeli movement in the UK doesn’t mean that Britain is a swamp churning with reptilian anti-Semites. Just check out how many members of the Commons and the Lords are members of “Friends of Israel”


  4. (That must’ve been a record – booted off the page before I had even got to end of the first sentence! What is going on???)

    Here goes – the triumph of hope over experience….

    Bravo, Hadar. Well done for sharing the mendacious double speak of this wretch, and his outright lies. Is he really so thick as to believe that just because he says a thing we will believe him even if he himself falls for his own lies?

    This reminds me of an incident involving a far more intelligent but equally mendacious master of double-speak, Tariq Ramadan, whose overweening arrogance got him into trouble in 2004:

    A particularly chilling example of his failure to condemn suicide bombing unequivocally was Ramadan’s interview with the Italian magazine, Panorama, on 23rd September 2004,[xiv] in which, when he was questioned about the legitimacy of perceiving Israeli children as targets for suicide terror, he was quoted as saying:

    “I don’t believe that an eight year old child is a soldier. These acts are condemnable; therefore one has to condemn them in themselves. But I say to the international community that they are contextually explicable, and not justifiable. What does this mean? It means that the international community today has placed the Palestinians in a situation where they are delivered political oppression, which explains (not justifying it) that at a certain point people say: we don’t have arms, we don’t have anything, and so we cannot do anything other than this. It is contextually explicable but morally condemnable.”

    Although Ramadan’s answer appears internally consistent, even reasonable, upon first reading, when looked at more closely it is a prime example of the moral relativism and casuistry which seems to pervade many arguments put forward in order to deflect criticism of the more extreme behaviour of their co-religionists. Ramadan condemns the murder of children in and of itself, but his statement that it is “morally condemnable” is contradicted and fatally flawed by his assertion that it is “contextually explicable.” Once again, Ramadan explains this away in terms of the Muslim persecution narrative, ie the actions of the international community against the Palestinians. Ramadan reacted to criticism after the publication of his views by denying that he had ever said such things. Unknown to him, however, the journalist had tape-recorded the interview.

    Thank heavens that they never learn.

  5. “Is the BBC really comfortable with the fact that the proverbial cigarette paper cannot be inserted between its own reporting and the propaganda of a racist terrorist organisation?”

    Do you think that it even registers with them, Hadar?

  6. “Is the BBC really comfortable with the fact that the proverbial cigarette paper cannot be inserted between its own reporting and the propaganda of a racist terrorist organisation?”

    In the last video I’d say Mahmoud al-Zahar goes some way beyond ‘racist’. He’s clearly supporting genocide.

    Also interesting is the fairly neutral tone used when raising the issue of Hamas torture of Fatah activists. Is there a single leader in the Western world that could have got away – as Meshaal appears to have – with simply putting around 100 incidents of torture of its opposition down to ‘mistakes’ that had been made?!

    The BBC appears willing to risk so much of its credibility and integrity in the cause of both Hamas and Fatah.

    • Actually, all you have to do is look at the way the MSM treats the Obama administration compared to that of Bush. Over the last few days even some liberals have pointed out the difference in the way the NYTimes has treated “Top Secret” Obama ere documents (kept) and Bush era documents (leaked). These so called journalists have an agenda, and treating Israel fairley isn’t on that agenda. The left has chosen sides. Israel is not on the lefty MSM side.

      • I’m wondering whether using left to indicate the stance of much of the media is correct, particularly the BBC. This implies that they have some sort of philosophy that they adhere to, some code that they believe in, that they can’t help trying to spread.

        Whatever they think ‘left’ to mean, I’m almost certain we’d probably find that they are hypocritical to that belief. Their agenda seems to be based on cowardice, greed, poor thinking, carelessness, low self esteem manifesting as a desire to push their own self importance, and that’s just for starters.

        Maybe ‘wrong’ would be a better way to term these vile scum. Yes rather than left or right, – wrong or right.

        • I’ll not argue the semantics. And I’m honest enough to admit I may be permiting my prejudices to show (we all have some). But you will agree that BBC is demonstraing a bias.

          • I think you misunderstand my post Ethan.
            I have usually called the BBC left-wing, with a vague idea of what that really means. In reading your post it occurred to me that if I had no idea what left or right meant, I wouldn’t label them in terms of ‘direction’, but in terms of morality, and lack thereof. That’s what I was referring to – not any criticism of what you wrote, just putting forward what I think is a more accurate way to label them in future.

            As for whether I agree that the BBC demonstrates bias – can you see my avatar, and are you aware of the website I run?

          • Yes, I see. So our viewpoints probably aren’t that different. And I didn’t take your comments as criticism. I’m also aware that I can come across a bit strong.

          • 🙂
            I doubt our views about the BBC are different. Just thinking that we might not be addressing their real position correctly by terming them left-wing, when that itself could be alienating our criticisms to genuine left-wingers.

          • I checked out your site. I’m sure your right. I’m a “Yank” and left/right may have more meaning this side of the pond.

          • I was a hippy for many years, and I suppose I still am. I support genuine changes that will benefit all people who are striving to make the world a better place. I don’t support just giving, as if that itself makes the world a better place, but knowing what to give, when, and to who, and thinking about those consequences I can foresee beforehand.

            Does this make me left or right wing?
            I can say I’m not bothered by whatever label anybody might attribute to me, it’s more important that I feel ‘right’ within myself. In politics I look at the person, regardless of party, and see what I think about their proposals, and judge them accordingly. I have to say, there’s very few I’d trust or believe should hold that power.

            Fox news is called right wing, but I see they do a better job on the whole of relaying truth and facts from the perspectives of our values than any of the others. Would that we had a similar outlet here. But I know they are shunned by many who because of the ‘right wing’ label don;t examine the facts that Fox gives.

            The BBC is evil, immoral, criminal, and unethical. They are a cancer for all the damage they do to our society.

          • As Gerard Depardieu playing the poor immigrant musician said in Green Card to the woman planting trees for the underprivileged when she called him right-wing: ” Wing? You’re the one with a wing, I’m just trying to earn a living” . The BBC is not winged, it is simply institutionally antisemitic.

          • I don’t know if they’re anti-Semitic, it might be more they simply don’t give a shit about Jews in pursuit of their Islamic appeasement. There are Jews like Stephen Fry that they are happy to give a lot of coverage to. But he’s shown his anti-Zionist colours, so that makes him a ‘good Jew’ as far as the BBC is concerned.

            There is also no doubt that the BBC reveals many poor thinkers among its flock. Given the success of Jews in so many areas. it’s likely that there will be many who feel resentment, as is typical of those with an inner inferiority complex.

            Really they shouldn’t have a complex about it, they are inferior.

      • Popping at shadows as usual Ethanol!
        If Israel has lost the support of the “left” it’s probably because Israel like Assad doesn’t seem to realise that if you pull the trigger,innocent people get killed and maimed! By that criterion Hamas come in a poor third place!

  7. Teddy. Stephen Fry is not just “anti Zionist”. He is a fully fledged BBC-endorsed Jew- hater and proud of it, as seen on air:

    • Good link – thanks Duvid
      I doubt though that he would have aired those views if Israel wasn’t an issue. One can see he has serious issues going on inside him to express himself that way.

      Just think of those who want to keep company with him – he’s getting his just deserts.

      • It is amazing how different people interpret the same thing. My take on that outburst was that he is an atheist who despises the effect religion, especially middle eastern religions – have had on the world’s history. I agree with him, but that only makes me an atheist too, not an anti-semite.

        • Do you really believe that atheists have never justified wars? Seems rather blinkard not to see that religion or lack of religion can be used to try and dominate others – this may have nothing to do with the religion itself, just how it is being used.

          What should be weighed up are the positive values that religion have given, and continue to give, as well as those of atheism.

        • As for Fry, he is definitely intelligent enough to have understood that point already, and if he wants to pick a religion to attack then the Islam as practised by so many round the world would have been a better choice. Shows he clearly has a deep seated problem.

          • I don’t know what Fry’s personal views are, but in the interest of fairness I’m inclined to think that the presence of Ann Widdicombe in this clip suggests an extension to their previous Intelligence Squared debate, during which both Fry and Hitchens spoke against the motion of the Catholic church being a force for good. Ann, of course, was for the motion. Fry and Hitchens didn’t pull their punches during this debate either. You can probably find the debate on YouTube and once you’ve seen it, you may see this clip in a different light.

          • I see our very own Daphne ran a piece about him a few years ago.

            Here’s a few facts to consider.
            Fry is a man and a Jew. It would appear from his history that he’s familiar with what the Jews underwent in the last 100 years – not because they were necessarily religious, but simply because they were Jews.

            For half the total amount of Jews living at the time to have been wiped out by a nation, that hitherto most believed they had been assimilated within, and were major positive contributors to that nation, was a real wake up call. If the pogroms and previous persecution that Jews had undergone in various lands wasn’t enough. If a lesson was to be learnt from all this for the Jews it was that they cannot rely on ANY nation to provide security for them.

            They must have their own land, even if that doesn’t guarantee, nothing else did.

            Fry SHOULD understand this. That Israel is about survival for a group of people simply because they were born Jewish, regardless of whether they have any religious affiliation. With the ‘blessing’ of the majority of the worlds nations at the time they returned to a land that had historic connections for them. A land area about 0.01% of the surrounding Arab lands, sparsely occupied, and over two-thirds desert or swamp.

            That the Arabs chose not to accept the presence of Jews having dominion on this area was a struggle by the Jews, who felt this was always going to be a problem wherever they went in the world. So they might as well fight for their survival there as much as anywhere else.

            So who does Fry stick up for?

            He not only rejected his own alliance to the Jewish fight for survival, he also rejected his own manhood. I understand what he’s doing and why. He’s bought his future by sacrificing others of his race. Until such time as human beings can look beyond this ridiculous way of judging others, he’s shown himself to be a coward and self serving piece of shit.

            How Muslims must laugh at him.

    • Not to mention his own self-importance imparting his sense of ‘morality’.
      (Spent a year in prison for stealing a credit card of a close family friend and spending huge amounts of money using that credit card.

      It’s okay though, the close family friend was a Jew.

  8. Teddy Bear:

    “For half the total amount of Jews living at the time to have been wiped out by a nation…”

    I think the stats are that the Nazi beasts and their collaborators slaughtered half the Jews of Europe but a third of Jews worldwide.

    • Estimates to the actual Jewish population worldwide seems to vary a lot according to source. This Wikipedia article Historical Jewish population comparisons shows a chart giving figures for various countries at different periods, and also states:
      Toward the end of the 19th century, estimates of the number of Jews in the world ranged from about 6,200,000 (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1881) to 10,932,777 (American Jewish Year Book, 1904–1905). This can be contrasted with estimates of about half that number a mere 60 years earlier

      But whether a half or one third were eradicated, the point still stands. It’s certainly enough for Fry to understand why Jews need their own country, if he wanted to.

      • Quibiling on #s is not productive. Before Holocaust denial became fashionable, the deniers would argue that it was 4 1/2, not six. Or 5. Or 5 1/2. This is ALWAYS intended to distract from the CRIME. And if nothing else proves a need for Israel, the rise in anti-semitism (you must be blind, deaf, and dumb not to see it) clearly demonstrates that need. EU countries now say to Jews, don’t wear any identifiable as a Jew. IN 2013 EUROPE!!!!!

        And for you “pro-Palestinians”. Do you listen to what they (Palestinians and Arabs) say they will DO to the Jews of Israel! Do you! They publicly and proudly call for a second Holocaust. But you don’t care about Jewish lives, do you!

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