The June 1st edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Weekend’ included an item billed:
“…a senior governing party politician in Israel reflects on the need to hold elections again in three months.”
The item began with a fairly unremarkable interview (from 32:57 here) with former Jerusalem mayor, Likud party member and Knesset rookie Nir Barkat concerning his party’s failure to form a coalition government and the repeat general election to be held in September.
Presenter Julian Worricker then asked for comment from his two studio guests who had been introduced at the beginning of the programme as:
“Shaista Aziz – British journalist, writer, comedian and politician for the British Labour Party and Frank Langfitt, who’s London correspondent for the US National Public Radio network.”
Listeners were not informed that Shaista Aziz’s CV also includes stints with various political NGOs including Oxfam, Islamic Relief and Save the Children as well as a position on the management council of War on Want or that she spent two weeks in Schem as an ISM volunteer during the Second Intifada. Neither were they told of her current project – spokeswoman for the ‘Stop Trump Coalition’.
Apparently uninterested in domestic Israeli politics, Langfitt chose to take up Worricker’s second question of “what it means for this Jared Kushner initiative”, opining that the upcoming Israeli election “gives the Americans a little more time to sell a plan that they haven’t really told people what it might be” and going on:
Langfitt: “The second thing to remember is that it’s going to be met with scepticism in part, certainly the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. You know the United States at times was seen as an honest broker in the Middle East but it’s very hard for Palestinians or most Arabs to see that when you move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
Later on Langfitt added:
Langfitt: “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy sell for the Americans with this administration, frankly with President Trump and the things that he’s done that have been very provocative to Arabs and Palestinians.”
Listeners heard no explanation as to why the relocation of the US embassy to an existing facility in an area of Jerusalem to which the Palestinians ostensibly make no claim should be “very provocative”. Neither were the discussion’s participants interested in analysing Worricker’s observation that “the Palestinians have already been highly critical of what they anticipate to be in this report [sic] even though it’s not been published”.
Shaista Aziz’s contribution to the conversation began with the presentation of unevidenced and simplistic allegations as ‘fact’.
Aziz: “Well, you know, Netanyahu is widely regarded as one of the most Right-wing leaders in Israel’s history. He’s not a man known for compromise or nuance – let’s be clear about that. We know that the war drums are beating over Iran which this…this election will impact that as well I think…”
Worricker made no effort to challenge those facile claims before Aziz brought up the unrelated topic of infrastructure problems in the Gaza Strip caused by Palestinian infighting.
Aziz: “I’m very glad that the Palestinians have been named and mentioned here because, you know, Gaza – the UN is saying – is almost uninhabitable. You’ve got a sewage system that’s collapsed, a water system that’s collapsed, agricultural issues and then at the heart of this is people who’ve lost hope so you’ve got large numbers of young people in Israel and Palestine who cannot see a way out of this for them in terms of their political leadership finding a just solution and a just peace…”
Speaking on a radio station where barely a day goes by without at least one report concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict, Aziz went on to claim that:
Aziz: “…an international solution will only be accepted if it’s a just solution and I think the issue of Palestine’s dropped off the radar and I do believe that these elections are going to end up being a big destruction and used by extremists on both sides.”
And so pre-emptive BBC framing of the as yet unpublished US administration initiative plods on with yet more superficial commentary that herds audiences towards the view that if the US peace proposal goes nowhere, that will be due to internal Israeli politics and because the US administration has done “provocative” things – not because the Palestinians have rejected the proposal before even seeing it.