Bowen tweet not helpful to the BBC’s reputation for impartiality

Dr Eyad Sarraj, who recently died at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem where he had been treated for leukemia, was the founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

Despite its scientific and neutral-sounding title, the GCMHP has shown itself repeatedly (see p38 onwards) to be an NGO with political motivations and is involved with the BDS movement. In evidence he gave to the Goldstone Panel in 2009, Sarraj said:

“The Palestinian in the eyes of the Israeli soldier is not an equal human being. Sometimes this Palestinian even becomes a demon in their eyes. Therefore it is a state of demonization. This is unfortunately, uh, what can be seen in the behavior of the Israeli soldier not only killing children or fathers before…He is not dealt with as an equal human being. This is the base of everything and then there is the fact that there is no restraint, no discipline within the army and, uh, uh, even there’s an encouragement…Many Israelis need this and also the Palestinians because inside Israel there is an identification with the aggressor, the Nazi.”

Sarraj was also a member of the flotilla-organising, ISM-rooted Free Gaza Movement’s ‘Gaza Advisory Council’ – part of its Board of Advisors.

Hence, the Tweet below – sent on December 18th by Jeremy Bowen: the Middle East Editor tasked with being the gatekeeper of accurate and impartial Middle East reporting – does little to help the BBC’s reputation as an impartial body.

Bowen Sarraj tweet

BBC Monitoring puffs wind in the sails of professional anti-Israel campaigners

Readers who also visit the ‘Snapshots’ blog run by our colleagues at CAMERA will no doubt be aware of the recent story – as first reported by the Times of Israel on November 13th – concerning the publisher ‘Scholastic Inc.’ which inadvertently produced a map from which Israel was omitted in one of its children’s books. scholastic map.jpg

The company quickly rectified the situation, as reported by CAMERA:

“The publisher today expressed regret for the omission and announced that it is “immediately stopping shipment on this title, revising the map, and going back to reprint.” “

Five days later, on November 18th, the story was picked up by BBC Monitoring and placed in its “News from Elsewhere” section on the BBC News website. 

News from elsewhere Scholastic

Interestingly, part of the BBC Monitoring article focuses on reactions to the amended map provided by the publisher.

“However, the new map has opened a further can of worms for Scholastic, with readers engaged in a heated argument on whether the map should also include the Palestinian territories.”

Visitors who click on the link to Scholastic’s blog provided in the BBC article will soon realise that many of the writers of the comments there are not mere “readers” as they are described by BBC Monitoring, but veteran – and in some cases, professional – anti-Israel campaigners. 

First off the mark is Greta Berlin of the flotilla-organising, Hamas-supporting ‘Free Gaza Movement’ – perhaps more memorable for her promotion of antisemitic material on the internet.

comments scholastic 1

Berlin’s ‘Free Gaza Movement’ colleague Mary Hughes-Thompson (who goes by the name ‘Mariapalestina‘ on Twitter) appears to be next.

comment scholastic 4

comment scholastic 5

Also popping in to visit was International Solidarity Movement activist Paul Larudee, who was among the organisers of the failed 2012 ‘Global March to Jerusalem’.

comments scholastic 2

There is also a comment apparently from Khaled Mouammar – former head of the controversy-plagued Canadian Arab Federation.

comment scholastic 6

Hanna Kawas is chair of the Canada Palestine Association.

comments scholastic 3

Readers will probably recognize additional names such as Jane Jewell, Kay von Riesen or Samir Twair in what is clearly a collection of comments resulting from a coordinated campaign.

tweet mary hughes free gaza

How curious it is that BBC Monitoring picked up this story at all, and all the more that it only did so after five days. How odd too that it specifically directs readers to a collection of comments made by anti-Israel campaigners. The question of course is whether or not the anonymous writer of the BBC Monitoring article actively sought to amplify the coordinated campaign of ‘Free Gaza’ et al, or whether he or she simply did not bother to do the research in order to find out what kind of voices the BBC would be promoting.

Related articles:

BBC interviewee’s support for Greta Berlin’s antisemitic videos

A wave of propaganda: BBC revisits the 2010 flotilla

The BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 23rd 2013 was headed by no fewer than six items pertaining to what was described as an “Israeli apology for flotilla deaths”. 

flotilla articles 23 3

Those items include a written article entitled “Israel PM apologies for Gaza flotilla deaths” which also includes video footage and a filmed report under the same title by Wyre Davies which appeared on BBC television news. Curiously, the footage in both those reports comes with a disclaimer

flotilla art 2

Other items include a written report by Kevin Connolly entitled “Mavi Marmara: US extracts last-minute Israeli apology”, a written article titled “Obama ends Middle East trip with visit to Petra ruins” which also features video footage by Yolande Knell and Q&A piece going under the dramatic headline “Q&A: Israeli deadly raid on aid flotilla”. 

All of these reports contain a plethora of basic inaccuracies on the one hand and distinguish themselves through deliberate omissions of crucial information on the other. 

The widespread assertion made in the website heading, article titles and in the reports themselves that Israel apologized “for flotilla deaths” is both inaccurate and superficial. As Professor Barry Rubin points out here, this event did not come out of the blue and as explained on PM Netanyahu’s Facebook page, the apology was for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury”. 

Netanyahu FB flotilla

Hence, the claim made by Wyre Davies in his filmed report that “Israel apologized for its role in the deaths of the nine activists” is inaccurate, as is the claim made by Yolande Knell that:

“He [Obama] got the Israeli Prime Minister on the phone apologizing to the Turkish Prime Minister for that deadly military raid on a Turkish ship heading to Gaza with activists on board three years ago.”

The fact that such inaccurate portrayals by Davies and Knell found their way into BBC television news reports is rendered even more egregious when one notes that the wording in the strap line of the main article appearing on the BBC News website indicates that the BBC is actually well aware of the real facts:

“Israel’s prime minister has apologised to Turkey for “any errors that could have led to loss of life” during the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla that tried to breach the Gaza blockade.” [emphasis added] 

Another serious inaccuracy which appears across the board in these reports is the portrayal of the Mavi Maramra as a ship transporting “aid” to Gaza and the description of its passengers as “activists”. Wyre Davies says in his filmed report:

Sheikh Mohammed al-Hazimi, a member of the Yemeni Parliament and of Al-Islah, aboard the Mavi Marmara

“….nine Turkish activists on a boat called the Mavi Marmara taking aid to Gaza. That boat was boarded by Israeli marines and nine of the activists were killed.”

In this article the BBC claims that:

“Nine people were killed on board the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was boarded by Israeli commandos while trying to transport aid supplies to Gaza in May 2010 in spite of an Israeli naval blockade.”

The Q&A article claims that:

“It [the flotilla] wanted to deliver aid to Gaza, breaking an Israeli and Egyptian blockade on the territory. The ships were carrying 10,000 tonnes of goods, including school supplies, building materials and two large electricity generators. The activists also said they wanted to make the point that, in their view, the blockade was illegal under international law.”

The blockade is not of course “illegal under international law”, as the UN’s Palmer Report made perfectly clear.

“The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

The fact that three years on, the BBC is still promoting that myth – albeit whilst apparently thinking it has itself covered by ostensibly quoting someone else – and that it does not make it clear that the “activists” have no legitimate basis for their “views”, represents a clear breach of BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality and accuracy.

As for the BBC’s various claims pertaining to “aid”, the Mavi Marmara was of course one of seven vessels which made up the flotilla, but the only one on board which any violence took place. The flotilla’s organisers were offered in advance by Israel the opportunity to dock at Ashdod port, have any cargo inspected for weapons and illegal goods and then have it transported into Gaza. Any legitimate aid organization would have taken advantage of that offer, but the flotilla organisers refused it. 

Further, beyond the personal effects of some 600 passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara – clearly a number far in excess of that required by any legitimate aid mission – no humanitarian goods were found on that specific ship or on two of the other vessels comprising the flotilla. 

The “aid” which was carried by the other four ships included expired medicines, second-hand used clothing and other goods – many of which were damaged due to improper packaging. The total amount of “aid” was later packed into 34 trucks for transport into Gaza (although Hamas refused to accept it initially). During the same week, 484 trucks of genuine aid passed into the Gaza Strip via the crossings on the border with Israel. 

As for the “activists” (as the BBC euphemistically terms them), we can get a good idea of the kind of received wisdom which lies behind the use of that phrasing by looking at the section under the sub-heading “Who organised it?” of the Q&A article.

Bulent Yidirim (IHH) and Ismail Haniyeh, January 2010

“A group called The Free Gaza Movement, an umbrella organisation for activists from numerous countries, and a Turkish group called the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH).

The Israeli government says the IHH is closely linked to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which it views as a terrorist group, and is a member of another organisation, the Union of the Good, which supports suicide bombings. However, the Turkish government regards the IHH as a legitimate charity, and had urged Israel to let the flotilla through.”

The BBC’s anodyne description of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ is nothing less than scandalous. It completely ignores the FGM’s connections to the International Solidarity Movement and the close links of both those groups to the terrorist organisation Hamas. It fails to mention the FGM’s dismal record of support for terror and antisemitism and its documented strategy of organizing flotillas as a PR exercise, as well as the involvement of many of its members and supporters in other anti-Israel campaigns. 

Members of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ receive medals from Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2008

No better is the BBC’s whitewashing of the IHH. As we see above, according to the BBC it is “the Israeli government” – and it alone – which “says” that the IHH is “closely linked” to Hamas. It is also the Israeli government which “views” Hamas as a “terrorist group”.

This warped version of reality ignores the fact that many other countries define Hamas as a terrorist organization besides Israel. It also downplays the nature of the ‘Union of Good’ – of which the IHH is a member – by describing it vaguely as an organization “which supports suicide bombings”. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Union of Good – headed by the antisemitic preacher Yusuf Qaradawi – which came into existence at the beginning of the Second Intifada as a way of raising and channelling funds to enable terror attacks by Hamas and its affiliates against Israeli civilians. It is designated by the US government as well as Israel

The BBC’s simplistic making do with the statement that the IHH is a “legitimate charity” in the eyes of the current Turkish government  does not even attempt to explain to readers the close ties between the two and the extent of the support provided by the Turkish government in the organization of the flotilla.  

All these BBC reports totally ignore the clear evidence of incitement to and preparations for violence on board the Mavi Marmara well  in advance of any meeting with the IDF, as shown for example in an Al Jazeera report aired two days before the incident. 

Almost three years after the Mavi Marmara incident, the BBC’s reporting on the subject reads like a press release of which the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ itself would be proud. The blatant omission of crucial information concerning the flotilla’s organisers and participants, as well as of the circumstances of the incident itself, can only be regarded as an attempt to dictate a very specific, dumbed-down narrative about the event to BBC audiences in order to shape perceptions. That clearly compromises the BBC’s obligations to both accuracy and impartiality – as well as insulting audiences’ intelligence. 

BBC shields audiences from antisemitism in Istanbul

On November 6th 2012, a Turkish court began its show trial of four former commanders of the Israeli security forces – in absentia – for their supposed role in the Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010. 

As was pointed out by a representative from the MFA:

“The so-called accused were not even informed or served or notified that they were going to be charged, which makes this one big puppet show” 

That fact is not reported in the BBC’s account of the opening of the obviously politically motivated trial, the eventual outcome of which is predictable to say the least.  In fact, the BBC article on the subject lends entirely unwarranted gravity and legitimacy to the proceedings. 

The BBC article also fails to relate in any way whatsoever to the antisemitic spectacle which went on outside the court on the first day of the ‘trial’ and which was obviously tolerated – if not encouraged – by the Turkish authorities.  

Under the EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism, one of its manifestations is:

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”

Gaza flotilla trial in Turkey

Protest in Turkey

Kahrolsun “Israil” translates as “Damn Israel”

In addition, the BBC fails to mention the involvement of the body which co-organised the 2010 flotilla (among others) – the terror connected Turkish organisation Insani Yardim Vakfi, also known as the IHH, and fails to inform its readers of the close connections between that organisation and the Turkish government, its long history of anti-Israel incitement and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories for which its leader has quite a penchant. 

IHH display outside the court in Istanbul

According to this report and others:

“Several hundred people, many wearing the Arab keffiyeh headscarf around their necks adorned with the Turkish and Palestinian flags, crowded outside the courthouse as witnesses and relatives of those killed in the raid began to arrive.

“Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine!” the crowd chanted as others held up a banner with the words: “What is the difference? Hitler = Israel.”

On a board erected outside the courthouse by IHH, the Islamic humanitarian agency that owns the Mavi Marmara, protesters scribbled the slogans: “Israel, your end is near”, “Down with Israel”, “The revenge of our martyrs will be bitter”.”

The IHH vice president, Huseiyn Oruc, himself a passenger on the Mavi Marmara and among the organisers of the 2011 flotilla and the 2012 Global March to Jerusalem  has been giving interviews on the subject of the ‘trial’. According to him: 

” “Turkey is the first country in the world that will take the unlawful Israeli actions to court.” He further called the trial “a very significant case because today will mark the day that the untouchable image of Israel will be damaged.”

“Referring to the case pending at the International Criminal Court upon the request of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) September 2010 report, which described Israel’s actions as “crimes against humanity,” Oruç claims that Israel “has been putting political pressure on the international courts” and the international community is waiting for the outcome of the trial in Turkey.” “

The political nature of the trial is further highlighted by the report that:

“…the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and a parliamentarian from France’s Greens Party will send observers to İstanbul and a group of orphans from Gaza will also be at the court.”

But the antisemitism on the streets of Istanbul is not the only manifestation of anti-Jewish racism to be airbrushed out of the information provided by the BBC on this ‘trial’. Below the article appear links to additional background reading and information.

In the name of accuracy and impartiality, it would of course be proper for the BBC to update its anodyne profile of the Free Gaza Movement to include the recent display of blatant antisemitism by its leader Greta Berlin, who is quoted in the BBC profile. So far – over a month after the incident – that has not been done.

One cannot, it is to be hoped, imagine the BBC ignoring public displays of homophobia or racism against people of colour outside an obviously politically motived show trial enabled and promoted by a group which campaigned against gays or black people, even if that group did insert the words ‘human rights’ into its title. 

It is precisely this sort of display of double standards which tarnishes the BBC’s reputation. 


BBC’s Wyre Davies plays wingman to anti-Israel NGOs

h/t Dennis    

Treading faithfully in the footsteps of their compatriots of yesteryear, few subjects have been done to death by British journalists in the Middle East as that of the Bedouin in Israel. 

It therefore came as no surprise to find the BBC’s Wyre Davies venturing a whole eleven miles out of Jerusalem last month to report on “Israeli threat to Bedouin villages”.  

Davies’ report appeared in the Middle East section of the BBC News website, as well as on television news, on October 18th. It was also broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ on October 25th and can be heard here from around 25:26′. 

Davies opens his radio report from the school constructed without planning permission in the Bedouin encampment of Khan al Ahmar with the uncorroborated statement:

“If they [the children] didn’t come to school here, they wouldn’t get an education anywhere.”

He goes on to say:

“But they’re [the Bedouin] surrounded by illegal Jewish settlements as far as the eye can see and they want the school evicted and demolished.”

Contrary to what Davies would apparently have his listeners believe, in Israel demolition orders on buildings constructed – in any sector – without planning permission are not given out by the neighbours, but by the relevant authorities.

One may think that of all places, it would be wise to ensure that a school was built according to health and safety regulations. Apparently that aspect of the story is of no concern to Davies, who next interviews a woman named as Angela Goldstein and described as “an advocate who campaigns on behalf of this Bedouin community”. 

Ms Goldstein claims that:

“The only schools that are near are settler schools and of course none of these children would be accepted into Jewish-only schools.”

The whiff of racist rhetoric arising from that comment should have wised-up Wyre Davies to his interviewee – did he not already know who she actually is. 

Angela Godfrey Goldstein is no mere ‘advocate’: she is the policy officer for ICAHD – the political NGO which promotes apartheid rhetoric and the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. She is also a member of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ ,which was recently involved in a scandal due to its anti-Semitic Tweets and of course organizes flotillas. ICAHD’s director Jeff Halper sits on Free Gaza’s Board of Advisors as well as being a member of the ‘Russell Tribunal‘.

In addition, Ms Godfrey Goldstein is a member of Machsom Watch (the same organization which organized a delegation to comfort the families of the arrested murderers of the Fogel family) and her trip to Khan al Ahmar is far from a one-off: she runs a nice line in political trips to the encampment, in which Wyre Davies’ next interviewee, Eid Abu Hamis of the Jahalin tribe, is something of a regular feature. 

Davies sets the romantic scene by informing listeners that he is talking to Eid Abu Hamis Jahalin “under the shade of a fig tree” and then allows his host – unchallenged and unproven – to state that:

“The situation is now difficult due to the settlers who want us to leave”

“They [settlers] attack the woman [sic] and the children”

The Jahalin tribe has been the subject of many articles over on our sister blog CiF Watch, due to the fact that Khan al Ahmar is also a favourite and frequent watering hole for Guardian correspondents. Readers can view more background information here and here

The story which Wyre Davies tells is by no means a new one; in fact, it has been going on for about thirty years and Israeli courts have examined – and rejected – the Jahalin’s claims to the land. 

“The Jahalin have been making claims about the land of Ma’ale Adumim, and squatting on state land assigned to the community, since the 1980’s. They have been warned many times by successive Israeli governments that eventually they would have to move. Most of the Jahalin eventually agreed that they did not have rights to the land. For example, according to a January 29th, 1994 Los Angeles Times article, “no one, not even Hairsh (Mohammed Hairsh, a Jahalin leader) claims that his tribe has a legal right” to the land they have been occupying.

Nevertheless, out of sympathy for the plight of the Jahalin tribe, the Israeli government offered them title to a plot of land if they would agree to leave their encampment near Ma’ale Adumim. This new site is about one kilometer from and more than five times larger than the Jahalin’s previous encampment. In addition, under the proposed agreement with the Jahalin, the Israeli government agreed to provide, at no charge, electricity and water hookups, cement building platforms and building materials.

Not surprisingly, the leaders of the Jahalin tribe accepted Israel’s offer and most of the tribe moved to the new site. The electricity and water hookups were provided, and the platforms were built. However, when a lawyer representing some of the Jahalin returned from a trip abroad and heard of the agreement, she convinced several of the Jahalin families who had not yet moved to stay where they were.”

Bizarrely, Wyre Davies then interviews MK Ariyeh Eldad – presumably supposedly in the name of ‘balance’. Eldad, however, does not represent the Israeli government against which Davies’ other interviewees make charges (he also represents a mere fraction of Israeli opinion with his party – Ichud Leumi – holding a mere 4 seats in the Knesset) and therefore the interview with him can hardly be considered a ‘right of reply’.

During the interview with Eldad, however, Davies manages to squeeze in the following:

“This land…the international community regards as occupied Palestinian land and therefore it’s not Israel’s to claim as state land or otherwise”

Once again, a BBC reporter fails to reflect the fact that there are conflicting and diverse legal opinions about the status of the land in question, as well as neglecting to mention that it falls in Area C which, under the Oslo Accords, is still subject to negotiation.

Next, Davies travels to what he terms “inside Israel proper” and visits the Bedouin encampment at Umm al Hiran in the Negev, which he describes as being situated on “ancestral lands”. He claims that the Bedouin there are scheduled for eviction:

“..because Israel wants to build a new community here, but for religious Jews only.”

That final statement, by the way, is not true. The proposed community includes both religious and secular people, but to pretend otherwise undoubtedly embellishes the story with new dimensions.  

Again, CiF Watch has published much on the subject of land disputes with the Negev Bedouin because that too is a frequent subject for Guardian journalists. Background reading is available here, here and here. Details of Israeli government offers and incentives to the Negev Bedouin squatters can be read here

One organization involved in the politicization and promotion of Negev land disputes as a means of delegitimizing Israel is ‘Adalah‘. Adalah calls for the replacement of the Jewish state with a ‘democratic, bilingual and multicultural’ country in which Jewish immigration would be limited to strictly humanitarian cases but Palestinian refugees and their descendants would be entitled to the ‘right of return’. Ironically, Adalah is also involved in a campaign to remove Jewish residents from areas of the Negev. 

Wyre Davis’ interviewee in Umm al Hiran is Suhad Bishara, whom he describes as “a lawyer who represents the Bedouin in their fight to remain here”.

Ms Bishara is actually the head of the Land and Planning Unit at Adalah. She is allowed by Davies to state – again, unchallenged and unproven – that:

“It’s like the Wild West. Human rights are suspended. The rule of law is suspended. This is black and white. You are not entitled to be here because you are an Arab”. 

So, what do we have here? Well, obviously Wyre Davies is telling a very partisan version of a story without even trying to appear impartial or accurate. The rhetoric he and his interviewees use is clearly designed to leave the audience with shocking impressions of Israeli discrimination and racism towards the Bedouin. Davies does not make a proper attempt to recount the other side of the story apart from the inclusion of a very brief statement by COGAT in the internet version only.

But what is really shocking about this collection of articles and broadcasts by Wyre Davies is his willingness to play wingman for political NGOs dedicated to the abolition of the State of Israel. By failing to declare the affiliations of his interviewees, Davies allows the BBC to be used as a medium for the promotion of their message.

Did ICAHD and/or Adalah organize Davies’ visits to Khan al Ahmar and Umm al Hiran? He certainly would not be the first journalist to take advantage of such trips in exchange for a sympathetic write-up, if he did.

The BBC needs to provide transparency on the background circumstances to these articles immediately. 

BBC interviewee’s support for Greta Berlin’s antisemitic videos

As readers will no doubt remember, the BBC World Service saw fit to broadcast an interview with Gilad Atzmon on its ‘Weekend’ programme on October 14th 2012, in which the host Julian Worricker declared himself to be “intrigued” by the proudly antisemitic, Holocaust-denying jazz musician. Worricker even posted a photo of himself and Atzmon on the BBC World Service’s Facebook wall. 

Atzmon has not been shy about adding his voice to the fray which ensued after Greta Berlin of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ posted a video claiming that “Zionists operated the concentration camps” on the organisation’s official Twitter account.

(If you have not been keeping up with that rather tangled chain of events, it is documented here – part 1 – and here – part 2 – by Avi Mayer and is well worth reading in full.)

The Greta Berlin story broke on September 30th: two weeks before Atzmon’s World Service interview. By October 7th, Atzmon had come out in support of Berlin and her posting of the video, writing on his own blog:

“A few days ago Greta Berlin had been subject to a vile Israeli and Zionist smear campaign following her facebook post containing the following message: “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews”. ” …

“Zionists and Hasbara agents were very quick to slander Berlin. They tagged her as an ‘anti Semite’ and a ‘Holocaust denier’. But clearly there is no Holocaust denial in Berlin’s message..” ….

 “The meaning of it all is pretty simple. As I disclose in my latest book The Wandering Who, there is a devastating continuum between hard core Zionism, Israeli Hasbara and the Jewish so-called ‘left’. Unfortunately, some Palestinians also operate as Sabbath Goyim. And they better be exposed [sic].”

In other words, Atzmon regards attempts by those in the world of pro-Palestinian activism to clean up their movement’s act and dissociate it from racism and Holocaust denial as a “Zionist plot”. 

That information was available to BBC researchers and to Julian Worricker – who claimed during the interview to have read “both critics and supporters” of Atzmon – a full week before the programme was broadcast. 

And yet, despite Atzmon’s infamous history and his open support for a woman who promoted antisemitic material on the internet (including a 1943 Nazi propaganda film), Worricker elected to go ahead with the interview, not only failing to challenge any of Atzmon’s bizarre statements, but also with the dumbed-down presentation of his guest as a mere “controversial public critic of Israel”.

The employment of racism and Holocaust denial in order to delegitimize a nation for political ends does not fall into the category of ‘criticism’ and Atzmon’s rantings go far beyond Worricker’s theme of “music and politics”. 

More recently, on October 19th, Atzmon published another predictably odious piece – entitled “Jewish Domination? Occupation More Likely” and cross-posted at ‘Countercurrents‘ – in which he wrote of those opposing antisemitism and Holocaust denial:

“The recent attack on Free Gaza’s Greta Berlin and Colonel Ann Wright suggests that we have crossed a red line — Jewish domination within the Palestinian solidarity movement belongs to the past. We are now, it seems, under Zionist occupation, and we are subject to all the symptoms of Israeli abuse and Zionist brutality. The expulsions, the exclusions and the cleansings that are inherent within Zionism, Israeli and Jewish politics, are now alive and kicking within the Palestinian solidarity movement itself. ” ….

“The message here is clear – some elements within the Palestinian solidarity movement have obviously adopted the most repellent and brutal Zionist symptoms, and we are now engaged, caught up in, and beset by a sinister series of expulsions, purges, crude witch hunts, exclusions, smears, character defamations and cleansings.”

I would be very interested to hear whether Julian Worricker really thinks that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial constitute “criticism” of Israel (or anything else) and if he still stands by the decision to give air-time to a man who thinks they have a place in the pro-Palestinian movement. Mr Worricker is invited to contribute his thoughts to the discussion in the comments below.