In the past we have documented on these pages numerous examples of the BBC’s promotion of the notion of an all-powerful “Israel lobby” and – even more frequently – the notion of a “Jewish lobby“. In November 2014, for example, listeners to BBC Radio 5 live heard the following:
“I mean if we’re not careful we’re going to turn into the east coast of America where, you know, where all of politics is in thrall…ehm…to the Jewish lobby and to the Irish lobby and as a result you get very, very distorted politics and good sense goes out of the window.” […]
“We can’t all observe dietary laws because it might offend the more powerful lobby – the Israeli lobby – which already has big brother America cow-towing to its every wish. I mean it really is unacceptable. It’s kind of un-British anyway…” [all emphasis added]
Over the past couple of years, however, the BBC has been noticeably more cautious about promotion of the ‘Jewish lobby’ trope.
The November 8th edition of the BBC Radio 4 news and current affairs programme ‘Today’ included several items relating to a story broken by the BBC several days earlier concerning a British cabinet minister and allegedly “undisclosed” meetings in Israel that actually took place several months ago and in some cases were posted on social media.
One of those items included a discussion (from 02:13:45 here) between presenter Nick Robinson, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt and former Labour politician Lord Falconer who accused Priti Patel of “colluding with a foreign government” and looking “like she’s much more the emissary of the Israeli government than a member of the British government”.
When Robinson asked “if she’d told the Foreign Office would that have made it OK?”, Falconer painted a garish caricature of the actual story that went completely unchallenged by Robinson.
Falconer: “I doubt it because the whole feel of the thing is that she – without officials, without telling anybody – which I think is one element only, was talking to them and instead of saying look I come with the British government’s view, I come with my own view. Let’s work out – the Israeli government and Miss Patel – how we can get assets out of the British government to help Israel. That does not look to me like the activity of a British government minister.” [emphasis added]
Later on in the conversation (02:16:57) Nick Robinson posed the following question:
Robinson: “Isn’t part of a subtext here, Charlie Falconer, that some people dislike the fact that Priti Patel is pro-Israel? Maybe the Foreign Office dislikes that and that this is a particular case rather than a general one? You’ve even accused her of trying to raise money for a leadership bid.”
Falconer: “Well I don’t know whether she’s doing that or not but I mean it obviously positions her well with those who are very pro-Israel, who would like to see a pro-Israel leader of either the Tory or the Labour party.”
Clearly understanding Falconer’s insinuation, Robinson then made an observation that – in light of the BBC’s ‘Jewish lobby’ record – is worthy of note.
Robinson: “I’ve got to put it to you, you know, there’ll be some people in the Jewish community listening to that and saying that’s the sort of paranoia about the Jewish community that is unacceptable.”
Falconer: “It’s nothing to do with paranoia about any particular country or any particular group. You do not want a prime minister who is in hock to the United States of America. You do not want a prime minister who is in hock to any particular group.”
“In hock” is defined as meaning “owing money to a person or organisation, or forced to do things for them because they have lent you money or have helped you”.
The conversation then moved on, with Robinson posing no further challenge to Falconer’s barely veiled promotion of the type of age-old tropes concerning scheming “pro-Israel” groups, governments, power and money that, until now, the BBC had over the last couple of years appeared to try to expunge from its content.