In a blogpost at Bishop Hill, a few days ago, Andrew Montford described the BBC’s Tim Willcox as:
Potty mouthed, bigoted, biased. He’s probably due for promotion.
Willcox is not one of the BBC-niks with whom I was familiar; but it was no surprise (considering that he’s a BBC reporter) to also learn from Montford that (not unlike his CBC counterparts) Willcox was quite happy to let the word “denier” roll off his tongue during a report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report. As Montford also noted (again not unlike the CBC):
The BBC is full of people who are campaigners rather than journalists.
Montford also noted that – during the course of a Jan. 10 interview with a woman who was born in Israel, but had lived in France for 20 years (and for whom English was obviously not a first language) – the U.K.’s Mail Online article had reported:
A BBC reporter has faced calls to resign after he told the daughter of Holocaust survivors in Paris: ‘Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well’ [emphasis added -hro].
Journalist Tim Willcox sparked anger during his coverage of yesterday’s rally in Paris, held in memory of the 17 victims of last week’s terror attacks, including four Jewish people in a siege at a Kosher supermarket.
The article cites various tweets of many who took exception to such Willcoxian phrasing (for which, evidently, he later apologized) – as well as a routine defensive apologia from a BBC spokesperson:
Tim Willcox has apologised for what he accepts was a poorly phrased question during an in-depth live interview with two friends, one Jewish and of Israeli birth, the other of Algerian Muslim heritage, where they discussed a wide range of issues affecting both the Muslim and Jewish communities in France. He had no intention of causing offence.’
Well, it looks as though the only place he apologized is on twitter. I wanted to see the full “in-depth” interview, not just the MailOnlne’s clip (which for some strange reason is no longer functioning – at least that’s the view from here!) If Willcox’ known broadcast audience is limited to his twitter followers, that’s probably not so terrible. Doesn’t say much for him – or the Beeb, does it?!
Speaking of which … for some strange reason, not only is the MailOnline video snippet no longer functioning, but also my search of the BBC archives – so that I could see the “wide range of issues [Willcox discussed] with the rally participants” – has turned up zip, nada, zilch! I did, however find the following snippet from Willcox’s purported “wide range of issues”:
As Montford had observed, this was not Willcox’s first on-air demonstration of his inability to curb his prejudices. The MailOnline article’s primary focus was on the uproar that ensued, resulting in numerous tweets calling for his resignation.
Do I agree with such calls?! Absolutely not! Do I think Willcox could benefit from some history lessons – as well as some lessons in how to interview someone for whom English is definitely not a first language?! You betcha! In his case, it may – or may not – help. But it can’t hurt!
I’m not sure what Willcox’ area(s) of expertise might be – even after taking a scroll through the BBC archives. From the few performances I skimmed, my impression is that he’s kinda like the proverbial jack of all trades, master of none.
But speaking of the BBC … During the course of my fruitless search for this Willcox video, I did come across Charlie Hebdo attack: Three days of terror where “top billing”, so to speak, was the following:
France is emerging from one of its worst security crises in decades after three days of attacks by gunmen brought bloodshed to the capital Paris and its surrounding areas. It began with a massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday 7 January and ended with a huge police operation and two sieges two days later.
Here is what we know about how events unfolded
This was preceded by three unidentified photos and immediately followed by:
Approximately 2/3 of the way down the page, one sees:
5. Supermarket hostage-taking and siege
Another pic which flags a kosher supermarket followed by:
Meanwhile, in Paris, another siege was under way.
While the Kouachi brothers were surrounded at the printworks, the French authorities had confirmed there was a “connection” between the Charlie Hebdo killings and the shooting of the policewoman in Montrouge.
Then a gunman took several people hostage at a kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes in the east of Paris after a shootout. Police quickly surrounded the building.
Some more pics followed by a section they labelled “The victims” … There are three groupings of pictures; each grouping is followed by a list of the names and roles of those who were murdered. Twelve at Charlie Hebdo, the policewoman at Montrouge and, finally, the four at Hyper Cacher supermarket:
Yohan Cohen, 20, worked at the kosher supermarket
Philippe Braham, 45, was a business manager for an IT firm
Yoav Hattab, 21, was a student and the youngest supermarket victim
Francois-Michel Saada, 64, was a former pension fund manager
Dead Jews? Who knew, eh?!
Mind you, to be fair, I should note that the page I landed on contains tabbed links to other related pages where one will find more details. Nonetheless, to the extent that the BBC was able, the writers did their level best to pretty up the involvement and associations of the terrorist murderers and to incorporate as much immoral equivalency as they could!
On the other hand … Back at Bishop Hill … I was somewhat surprised by the comments of a few of my fellow “congregation” members’ – from whom I would not have expected to see such comments as:
I would more directly equate IS and zionist Israel on matters of collective punishment and other war crimes.
And yes, I agree that Tim Willcox is apparently stupid. :)
So, I posted the following (with names omitted here, to protect the guilty):
I have never been particularly impressed with the BBC’s (or CBC’s for that matter) coverage of anything pertaining to Israel. Nor have I ever counted myself among those who believe that Israel is perfect and can do no wrong**. No country is perfect!
FWIW, From what I know of Canada’s treatment of the Native Canadian population and Israel’s treatment of the Arab-Palestinians (and other minorities), I’d say that Israel’s record is the better of the two.
Nonetheless, […] (and anyone else who might share their views of Israel) … I wonder if you are familiar with Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine. Unfortunately Peters died today, but her book, published in 1984, is well worth a read.
Another book I would strongly recommend is Stephanie Gutmann’s 2005 The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy.
Both are still in print and available on Amazon (but unfortunately not in Kindle)
But, if you’re not into books … for a quick overview, I came across an article today that you might want to take a look at The Mendacious Maps of Palestinian “Loss”.
** Truth be told, in all the years I’ve been following such matters, I’ve never encountered anyone on my side of the fence who has actually espoused and/or even come close to expressing such a view! But I digress …
The one direct response I received (with emphasis now added by me):
Hilary, I’m familiar with the last piece you link but I disagree with it. I’ve discussed the same arguments (as presented by KenRG) but found the points I made were censored out, just as if I were posting at SkS.
I’m not anti-semitic, I’m not anti-islamic, nor pro-zionism nor pro-islamic state. I am, however, anti-apartheid and I’m afraid my views of Israel are biased by this principle – a principle I grew up with, and into, and which I am sure by now I cannot be dissuaded from. I appreciate that you and I have wildly different perspectives on this matter, and I both respect and celebrate that.
Needless to say, when I saw that he had dragged in the utterly false (but, sadly, far too often seen) Israel=apartheid meme, along with some equally ill-informed (albeit less civil) comments from others, I saw little point in following up with any further attempts at enlightenment. Had I chosen to do so, though, I would probably have responded along the following lines:
I’m not sure who KenRG is, and obviously I have no way of knowing what your “arguments” might have been. But your invocation of the “Israel=apartheid” meme strongly suggests to me that your knowledge of apartheid is sadly lacking any factual basis. However, speaking of facts …
If your “principle” had not so blinded you to the possibility that you might be mistaken, I would probably have suggested that you consider broadening your horizon beyond what strikes me as being pure, unadulterated, run-of-the-mill anti-Israel propaganda. So I post the following for the benefit of others who are not so … well, blinded and more open to less-blinkered material. Material such as the following …
The singling out of Zionism as a supposed form of racism was a device invented by the Soviet Union to justify its refusal to condemn anti-Semitism during the negotiation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the mid-1960s.
For almost a decade, Israel and the Jewish people remained passive and did not attempt to challenge Resolution 3379. They greatly underestimated its impact and the damage it caused all over the world, expecting unrealistically that it would fade away by dint of its sheer inanity.
The resolution’s revocation in 1991 was not an inevitable outcome of the end of the Cold War but was achieved mainly by convincing the United States to take the lead on the issue; the ostensible UN “automatic majority” was a manifestation of lack of leadership. Today, the efforts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy come mainly from an NGO network inspired and supported by Israel’s enemies, calling for a new counterstrategy.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, defining Zionism as a form of racism, was revoked by the General Assembly sixteen years later on 16 December 1991.
The story of the rise and fall of this libel teaches a good deal about the role of anti-Semitism in international politics, its paralyzing effect on both the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and how such a libel was finally challenged successfully. Since the revocation of 3379, Israel’s international standing and legitimacy have steadily improved, increasing its ability to thwart ongoing attempts to negate its legitimacy.
The above is quite long, but well-worth the investment of time for those who might be interested in the actual, documented roots and growth of the Israel=apartheid/Zionism=racism memes. At least as things stood in 2010 when published by Dr. Yohanan Manor.
Further evidence of the “sheer inanity” of these fallacies can be found in the November 2013 work of Dr. Nohad Ali, an Arab-Israeli (or Israeli-Arab, if you prefer)
My reading of this paper suggests that there are some gaps in the history – as well as a rather unfortunate tendency to colour the text with the flavour of “political correctness” that, IMHO, has led to the lowering of standards in (for example**) North American universities.
** See A Crisis of Competence in which the authors note:
In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did.1 Whether these studies look directly at the capabilities of graduates, or instead at what employers find their capabilities to be, the result is the same: far too many college graduates have not learned to write effectively, they can not read and comprehend any reasonably complex book, they have not learned to reason, and their basic knowledge of the history and institutions of the society in which they live is lamentably poor. “An astounding proportion of students are progressing through higher education today without measurable gains in general skills” is the anguished conclusion of a respected national study, entitled appropriately Academically Adrift. 2 Further, students now spend on average little time studying outside the classroom, and the demands made of them by their faculty teachers have been correspondingly reduced. [emphasis added -hro]
This may, at the very least partially, explain why “climate science” – not to mention its ardent but inarticulate defenders – has made a significant contribution to the discipline’s descent into such disrepute; cf any Mann-erism of your choice;-) But I digress …
Nonetheless, it is quite clear that, as Ali had noted:
In Israel a compulsory education law was passed when the state was established, and Arabs benefited from it. The educational level of the Arab population in Israel has gradually increased, and economic and social-demographic changes have led to a situation where education has become a significant factor in the competition for resources and the opportunity to open paths of mobility that had been closed to them until recently.
The Arab school system has undergone many changes since the establishment of the state. There has been an increase in the number of students and educational frameworks, and with them an increase in the quality of teaching and the educational level of the Arab population as a whole.
Is it perfect? Of course not. But it doesn’t begin to approach any resemblance to apartheid – as Allan Dershowitz had noted in March 2010:
The secular Jewish state of Israel recognizes fully the rights of Christians and Muslims and prohibits any discrimination based on religion (except against Conservative and Reform Jews, but that’s another story!) Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel (of which there are more than a million) have the right to vote and have elected members of the Knesset, some of whom even oppose Israel’s right to exist.
There is an Arab member of the Supreme Court, an Arab member of the Cabinet and numerous Israeli Arabs in important positions in businesses, universities and the cultural life of the nation. A couple of years ago I attended a concert at the Jerusalem YMCA at which Daniel Barrenboim conducted a mixed orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian musicians.
There was a mixed audience of Israelis and Palestinians, and the man sitting next to me was an Israeli Arab, who is the culture minister of the State of Israel. Can anyone imagine that kind of concert having taking place in apartheid South Africa, or in apartheid Saudi Arabia?
There is complete freedom of dissent in Israel and it is practiced vigorously by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. And Israel is a vibrant democracy.
But to call an occupation, which continues because of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the two-state solution, “Apartheid” is to misuse that word. As those of us who fought in the actual struggle of apartheid well understand, there is no comparison between what happened in South Africa and what is now taking place on the West Bank. As Congressman John Conyors, who helped found the congressional Black caucus, well put it:
“[Applying the word “Apartheid” to Israel] does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.”
The current “Israel Apartheid Week” on universities around the world, by focusing only on the imperfections of the Middle East’s sole democracy, is carefully designed to cover up far more serious problems of real apartheid in Arab and Muslim nations. […]
In Israel, there are any number of critics from all walks of life – on just about everything under the sun who are known by their name. In contrast, consider the following excerpts from an unsigned letter to the President of France:
His Excellency, François Hollande
Dear Mr. President,
First, I wish to express my deep condolences over the killing of innocent citizens in the recent terror attacks in Paris.
Second, I want to apologize to Your Excellency for not revealing my true identity. After you read my letter, you will realize why people like me are afraid to reveal their real identity.
I decided to write to you this letter after hearing my president, Mahmoud Abbas, declare that you had invited him to attend the anti-terror rally in Paris earlier this week.
Like many Palestinians, I see President Abbas’s participation in a rally against terrorism and assaults on freedom of speech as an act of hypocrisy — a condition that is not alien to Palestinian Authority leaders.
In fact, many Palestinians nearly fell off their chairs upon seeing their president march in the front row of a rally in your capital, in protest against terrorism and assaults on freedom of the media.
President Abbas’s participation in the rally is an insult to the victims of the terror attacks. It is also an insult to Western values, including freedom of expression and democracy.
Your Excellency, myself and other journalists living under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank were the first to be offended by the invitation you extended to President Abbas to attend the anti-terror rally.
Undoubtedly, you are unaware of the fact that Abbas is personally responsible for punishing Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize him or express their views in public. Of course, Your Excellency, we cannot blame you for being unaware of this assault on public freedoms because the mainstream media, including French newspapers and magazines, deliberately turn a blind eye to these practices. Every day we see that the Western media does not care about such violations unless they are committed by Israel.
[… and the writer concludes:]
Your Excellency, now that the damage has already been done, all that is left for people like me is to beg you to take all what I have said into account in your future dealings with President Abbas. Please do not hesitate to raise these issues with President Abbas the next time he requests your support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Otherwise, France will be helping to establish another corrupt and repressive Arab dictatorship — one that glorifies and rewards terrorists no different from those who carried out the Paris attacks.
Finally, Your Excellency, I hope that by now you understand the reason why I am too scared to reveal my identity.
A Palestinian Journalist with No Name or Voice
Perhaps in your view – for whatever “principle” or reason – none of the above matters. In which case, you may well want to skip my final example of that which you are unlikely to read in whatever “sources” have led you to your counter-factual conclusions. But my concerns are encapsulated in the following from the editors of Commentary (Note: all emphases and some additional para. breaks added by me for ease of reading):
The Existential Necessity of Zionism After Paris: A COMMENTARY Editorial
The jihadist siege of a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris on January 9 was not the beginning of a new threat to French Jews and the Jews of Europe. Rather, it was the culmination of a decade of crisis. And it will not be the end.
The new era of deadly anti-Semitism in France began with the January 2006 murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi. Shortly after a Shabbat meal with his mother, Halimi was lured to a Paris slum, where he was ambushed by a gang. They held him captive for 24 days, during which time he was beaten, stabbed, burned with acid, mutilated, lit on fire, and tortured to death. Halimi’s murderers were African and North African Muslim immigrants with ties to Islamic extremists. They called themselves the Gang of Barbarians. And they chose Halimi because he was a Jew.
France’s 5 million Muslims account for 10 to 12 percent of the country’s total population. It is the largest Muslim population in Europe; it is also the most problematic. Several factors contribute to this reality.
The first is radical Islam. Since the late-20th century, a Saudi-funded, anti-Semitic strain of Islamist radicalism has spread to all corners of the Muslim world. Many of France’s recent Muslim immigrants from North Africa have brought their Islamist and jihadist sympathies to Europe. Indeed, a 2013 poll found that a startling 27 percent of French Muslims younger than 24 support ISIS.
Second, nationalism is a foundational aspect of French life. Old nationalist allegiances have made it hard for well-meaning Muslim immigrants to integrate into society, as they have no direct ties to Metropolitan France. They live largely among themselves in banlieues, whose customs and norms closely resemble those of the inhabitants’ countries of origin — not those of their new home.
The doctrine of multiculturalism, the idée fixe of postwar Europe, has a strange relationship with French nationalism: Though it would seem nationalism’s ideological opposite, multiculturalism offers rosy-cheeked cover to France’s deep unwillingness to allow anyone without centuries-old roots to become “French.”
Nominally, according to the postmodern ideal of multiculturalism, no one culture is more virtuous than another. And so the anti-Western, anti-Semitic Islamism practiced by France’s most dangerous citizens is not to be vilified, but rather understood and, ultimately, tolerated. As a matter of daily reality, however, multiculturalism allows the French to keep the Muslims separate—and unequal. And it allows some in France to entertain the belief that Jews, too, can never be French.
But France’s Jews are outnumbered by its Muslims 10 to 1. The unspeakable murder of Halimi in 2006 heralded a sharp turn back to Europe’s most notorious hatred, at the hands of its newest population. There have been thousands — thousands — of attacks on French Jews and Jewish sites in the years since Halimi was killed.
Muslim attacks on French Jews increased more significantly still in the summer of 2014, during and after Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. On July 13, dozens of North African immigrants stormed Paris’s Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue, chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Death to the Jews.”
But there are no substantive signs that France’s leaders are prepared to stop the radical Islamists who have declared war on French Jewry. Meanwhile, members of the French working class are coming to see the Jews more and more as a hindrance to their own economic well-being. And Europe’s steady turn against Israel has sharpened anti-Semitism of all stripes.
Caught between the deadly reality of radical Islam and the potential manifestation of a neo-fascist revival, what are French Jews to do? For ever greater numbers, the answer lies in Israel. Last year, a record-high 7,000 French Jews immigrated to the Jewish state—more than double the year before. The Jewish Agency, which oversees immigration of Jews to Israel, now estimates that some 15,000 French Jews will make aliyah in 2015.
Jews should have the right to choose to stay in France or anywhere else on the planet Earth they wish to live, from the center of Hebron to the top of Mount Everest. But the issue is not right but reality. Jews in France — and, given certain trends, elsewhere in Europe, from Great Britain to Scandinavia—have to consider their literal survival.
The Commentary editors then review the Herzl years, which began in 1894. And they subsequently note:
The Holocaust did not create the need for a Jewish state. It proved the need. “Who is willing and capable of guaranteeing that what happened to us in Europe will not recur?” David Ben-Gurion asked a UN commission in 1947. “There is only one security guarantee: a homeland and a state.”
The pervasiveness of anti-Semitism throughout the world continued proving the need after the state of Israel became a reality. Arab countries either expelled their Jews or made it impossible for them to survive without leaving. This resulted in an immediate refugee crisis: 850,000 Jews fled the Arab world in the years following Israel’s independence. Nearly 600,000 settled in Israel. The Jewish state’s absorption of those refugees was unprecedented; the immigrants nearly doubled Israel’s nascent population. Such a thing was only possible because of practical Zionism — the organizations and the banks and the bureaucratic systems originally envisioned in The Jewish State.
The Commentary editors offer some further history lessons and conclude (their very long essay) by noting:
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,/They have to take you in,” wrote Robert Frost. For every French Jew at risk, for every Jew everywhere at risk, and for every Jew who chooses, Israel is home. Its existence before the Holocaust would have saved millions. Its existence after the Holocaust saved and created millions. Seventy years after the Holocaust, Jews in Europe are in need of it again.
Alas, the promise Herzl offered at the conclusion of The Jewish State was dreadfully naive: “The Jews, once settled in their own State, would probably have no more enemies,” he wrote. In two months, Jews will gather for the Passover seder and sing: “In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us.” Anti-Semitism is a disease for which there is likely no cure.
The existential necessity of Zionism after Paris is not only a fact. It is a charge for the future.
Sorry that this was such a long reply to one whose professed “principle” has led him to “equate [the murderous Islamic State, aka ISIS] and zionist Israel on matters of collective punishment and other war crimes” and to permanently plaster Israel with the false – and far too common – apartheid meme. However, his (IMHO very ill-informed) views are far from unique – even to the point of not according the word Zionism its capital Z. So, being the fact-based Bridge-playing “contrarian” that I am, I needed to get this off my chest, and put some verifiable facts onto the table.
UPDATE: 01/17/2015 During the days that I was putting this post together, there was one BIG question at the back of my mind. But I didn’t specifically mention it. However, the indomitable Mark Steyn must have been reading my mind (and not for the first time!) because I see that he has a post yesterday which he introduces by posing my question:
Had they not died as part of the Charlie Hebdo killers’ final act, I wonder how much publicity the murders of Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, and François-Michel Saada at a kosher grocery store would have attracted. An Islamic fanatic killed another quartet of Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last spring, and it was a big story for a couple of days, and then faded away. Over the last decade, the Continent seems to have developed a certain psychological ease with the routine murder of Jews. What remains of Jewish communal life in Europe now takes place behind reinforced doors and barbed wire, and the actual extinction of an entire identity group’s presence is discussed as calmly as the long-range weather. Forty-five per cent of British Jews say Jews have no future in Britain, and 58 per cent says Jews have no future in Europe.
European leaders like M Hollande insist they’re able to protect the Jewish community – or at least hold the remorseless picking-off of their members to manageable levels.[…]
Thanks, Mark! And on a somewhat related note … I also came across an item today:
When a raiding party from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked a Saudi border post last week, it was no mere hit on a desert outpost.
The jihadists were launching an assault on the new, highest-profile effort by Saudi Arabia to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbours.
The Saudis are building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” — a combined fence and ditch — to separate the country from Iraq to the north. […]
One can hardly wait for all the protestations and moaning and wailing in the MSM to begin. Sounds of silence will be more like it, I suspect. Not to mention complaints to the UN for years on end from those who are inconvenienced by this construction. Yeah, right!
Yet since 2000, when Israel decided to protect the lives of her citizens by building a combination of protective fence and wall as a defense against the – by then – far too frequent incursions by terrorist suicide bombers, her detractors promptly pinned the perennially false “apartheid” label on her actions. Needless to say various UN bodies have held multiple meetings over the years in order to address the complaints.
As Tsvi Sadan noted in a brief summary last September:
The concrete wall around certain parts of the West Bank was built to prevent terrorists and suicide bombers from entering Israeli cities and villages, but has long been misrepresented to accuse Israel of implementing an apartheid policy.
One can argue over the need for such a barrier, but the suggestion that it was constructed to segregate Jews from Palestinians is sheer nonsense that is nevertheless eagerly embraced by myriads who find Israel’s existence extremely irritating.
[… Sadan concludes]
Far from being part of a nefarious apartheid policy, the fences and walls one sees throughout the Holy Land are an irritation for Israelis who feel they are once again being confined to ghettos. Nevertheless, nearly everyone agrees these are essential measures in Israel’s constant struggle for survival.
The vicious campaigns against the “apartheid wall” that was only built after hundreds of Israelis were killed in Palestinian suicide bombings are in actuality part of a larger campaign to deny the Jews the very right to defend themselves. Concealing such campaigns behind the thin veneer of protesting the alleged immorality of an allegedly racist state is, therefore, an attempt to make anti-Semitisim appear decent and acceptable.