BBC guest champions Hass’ advocacy of violence against Israelis

h/t JK

The Sunday April 7th 2013 edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Broadcasting House’ – presented by Paddy O’Connell – included, as usual, a review of the papers by visiting guests.

Broadcasting House 7 4

In this particular edition, however, rather than its usual focus on British news or world affairs featuring prominently in the UK papers, the “press panel” segment of the broadcast included a dishonest diatribe by guest journalist Charles Glass. 

Glass – the former ABC head of news in the Middle East between 1983 and 1993 – will no doubt be a familiar figure to readers of The Guardian (which recently published Glass’ article on the subject of his “hero” Noam Chomsky) and the Arts Council (i.e. British taxpayer) funded London Review of Books  – the systemic  anti-Israel bias of which was the subject of a 2010 report by ‘Just Journalism.

At 45:44 in this recording of the programme Glass says:

“Well, speaking of hate mail, I want to talk about Amira Hass who’s one of the best journalists in Israel. She’s a correspondent in the occupied territories for Ha’aretz and she wrote a column recently about ways for the Palestinians to resist military occupation – the illegal military occupation. She wrote ‘steadfastness and resistance against the physical, and even more so the systemic, institutionalised violence, is the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land’. For that, the Yesha Council – which represents the illegal settlers in the occupied territories – has filed a complaint. They want her to be prosecuted.”

Host Paddy O’Connell then makes a distinctly tepid interjection – presumably in the name of BBC ‘impartiality’ box-ticking.

16 month-old child hurt in stone-throwing attack near Tapuach junction, September 2012

PO’C: “And when you use the word ‘illegal settlers’, do you mean that you find the settlers to be illegal or…

Glass swiftly interrupts the docile O’Connell by saying:

CG: “I mean that under international law, they’re not allowed to take other people’s land and then put people on there.”

O’Connell immediately folds, failing to point out that Glass is not an expert on international law and neglecting to inform listeners that Glass’ verbal caricature in no way reflects either the complexity of the subject or the diversity of genuine legal opinion pertaining to it. He continues:

PO’C: “And the whole settler question…she’s in trouble in the newspaper, is she? What’s happening with her own publishers?

CG: “Well Ha’aretz has two excellent correspondents – Gideon Levy and Amira Hass – who write regularly about the occupation. Ha’aretz has so far withstood all the pressure to fire them and both continue to write. Ha’aretz is a.. really is a good paper.”

Whilst it is hardly surprising to find a person of Glass’ opinions promoting Levy, Hass and their paper in such glowing terms, the BBC must be called to account for allowing his deliberately disingenuous representations publicity – in obvious breach of its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

Ramallah resident Amira Hass’ March 3rd article, which Glass so enthusiastically defends, opened with a clear call for Palestinians to engage in violence.

“Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.”

וייס המשיכה בנסיעה, למרות האבנים (צילום: AFP)

Beit Ummar, February 2012

Later on in the article she excuses the attempt to cause physical harm by writing:

 “But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.” “

Hass even suggests in her article that “basic classes in resistance” should be taught in Palestinian schools. “Resistance” – as someone as familiar with the Middle East as Charles Glass should well know – is the Western public opinion-orientated euphemism for terror.

In other words, not only does Amira Hass find it perfectly acceptable for Palestinians to attack Israeli civilians with rocks, stones and who knows what else – she thinks that it is their duty to do so. Apparently, so does Charles Glass.

It is this incitement to violence which prompted the Yesha Council to complain about Hass’ article – not the sentence which Glass disingenuously elected to quote. His dishonest characterisation of that complaint as “hate mail” reveals much about both Glass’ political sympathies and his moral stance.

By providing a platform for Glass to whitewash Hass’ call for what is – let’s be perfectly frank about this – the organized and pre-meditated attempted murder of Israeli civilians, the BBC has rendered itself complicit to that incitement. Although it fairly successfully avoids reporting on the majority of the dozens of incidents in which Israelis are attacked – and sometimes killed – by Palestinian stone-throwers, it would not be too difficult for the BBC to apprise itself of the consequences of such shockingly frequent acts of terror. 

We cannot, surely, imagine the BBC playing host to the champion of an inciter of violence against any other group of people, but this brief broadcast shows how the lazy delegitimisation and dehumanization of Israelis has become commonplace in BBC discourse. 

Ahikam Simantov in 1990 after a rock thrown by Palestinians at the family car struck his head. Photo: Simantov family.

Glass’ use of the term “illegal settlers” – and O’Connell’s repetition of it – is an example of the way in which language is used to advance a politically motivated value judgement. That term deliberately categorises the people to whom it refers as “illegal”. It does not refer to the legal status of the communities in which they happen to live or to the actions and decisions of their government, but to the actual human beings it seeks to dehumanize and delegitimize. From there it is of course not a great leap to defending those who encourage the throwing of rocks at an “illegal” adult, child or baby. Ironically, it is all too frequently the same people dubbed ‘illegal’ by this BBC journalist and his guest who bear the brunt of what the BBC is so reluctant to name as terror. 

The same BBC which is so sensitive about making “value judgements” on the subject of terrorism apparently has no such qualms when it comes to making judgments about a specific sector of Israeli society. Its kangaroo court of language censors appears to have nothing to say about the designation of certain human beings as ‘illegal’ purely on the basis of their post code – with all that entails.

The vast majority of listeners to this programme will have no idea of the real content of Amira Hass’ article. Neither will they know much about the suffering caused to those on the receiving end of the types of “resistance” which Hass advocates. What they will have come away with, however, is the impression that a bunch of “illegal settlers” have made an unjustified complaint against an “excellent” journalist from a “good” paper.

That is about the most inaccurate and partial way this story could have been spun and the BBC collaborated with the broadcast of that spin to millions of listeners. In doing so – intentionally or not – it also became party to helping incitement along. 


13 comments on “BBC guest champions Hass’ advocacy of violence against Israelis

  1. “the BBC must be called to account for allowing his deliberately disingenuous representations publicity – in obvious breach of its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. ”

    So, basically, Hadar, you don’t believe in free speech for those who disagree with you. Moreover, as I have pointed out before, the BBC guidelines do not call for ‘accuracy and impartiality’ from individuals taking part in its programmes. Rather it is expected to present a balanced perspective across all of its outlets over time. Mark Regev and others regularly get ample BBC coverage to broadcast Israeli government lies. Do you really believe that the BBC should confine its output to this sort of propaganda?

    • You’re quite the disgusting, anti-Semitic, creep(“Jews financed the Ronnie Fraser case”)…
      “Israeli government lies”? Have you any proof of this, i.e. that Regev has ever lied?
      As for Propaganda, this article exposes the BBC’s bias of choice. Coincides with yours, quite perfectly…

    • “Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begin”.
      your free of speech End’s when you openly call for the mass killing of Israeli citizens.
      BBC should have know better.

    • This has nothing to do with free speech. Glass goes beyond mere inaccuracy. It is a wilful distortion of what Hass wrote, to rephrase the quote to leave out any reference to stoning.

  2. One of the most interesting things about this broadcast is the question of who selected Charles Glass to be one of the reviewers and why. Presumably either the programme producer or research incident. The reviewers are almost invariably either UK journalists or people with some sort of UK low-status celebrity. Why choose Glass other than to push his long-established anti-Israel agenda in a week when the main international news stories were the ongoing slaughter by Assad of his fellow Syrians and the North Korean threat to nuke the US and South Korea?

  3. The BBC may want to consult the AP style guide before using such pejoratives about Israelis across the green line. AP no longer permits using the word “illegal” to characterize people after concluding that such characterizations are inaccurate and dehumanizing. Instead, they’ve concluded (in the context of use of the word in the US immigration debate), the word “illegal’ can only be used in reference to an action.

    Here’s their updated style guide:

    ““Illegal immigration — Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.”


  4. Pingback: | Settlers usurping victimhood: Who is after Amira Hass? | | truthaholics

  5. The BBC may want to consult the AP style guide …..Equally they may not wish to…

    Equally you may wish to consult what The foreign and Commonwealth Office has to say about the legality of the settlements and note that the view is sharred by just about every Foreign Office in the world. In the light of this overwhelming consensus it is perfectly reasonable for the media to refer to the settlements as illegal.

    • Criticising another country relative to one’s own country doesn’t make it international law. It’s like me trying to ban your comments from this blog because I don’t agree with you. There is neither any treaty nor security council resolution that mentions anything about “illegal settlements”

      • True there is just a consensus of opinion, but in this case an overwhelming consensus. Should the BBC take the advice of Adam Levick on the point or that of Her Majesty’s Government and just about every other government in the world ?

        ” An occupying power shall not deport or otherwise transfer parts of its civilian population to the occupied territory…”

        • How true! The overwhelming consensus of anti-Semitic opinion that has shamed the world for millennia. And BTW, they are not occupied territory, they are ‘disputed’ territories.

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