In recent weeks, there have been indications that the British government is trying to target the BBC.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is responding to public irritation with what is seen as the BBC’s left-wing group – think on a range of issues ranging from Brexit to Black Lives Matter and from conservatism to Greta Thunberg.
He believes that the BBC no longer reflects the lives and attitudes of ordinary people in “middle Britain”, but instead amplifies the “awakened” worldview of the intellectual and administrative classes. I appear regularly on the BBC, but only as a representative of a conservative point of view to provide what the producers consider “balance”. But the left-wing mentality is so dominant that it overwhelms any of those voices.
Now the prime minister intends to install as president of the BBC someone who is willing to challenge his embedded leftism.
If it is doubtful that this as yet unknown individual has any degree of success, it is highly unlikely that he will change the BBC’s terrible treatment of Israel.
For years he has presented Israel in the most distorted way, falsely presenting it as the rogue state of the region., while minimizing or ignoring the attacks on Israelis and the incitement and anti-Semitism that are everyday features of Palestinian Arab life.
The most recent example of this mentality from the BBC concerns a terrorist Palestine born in Jordan, Ahlam Tamimi. In August 2001, he handed a guitar case full of explosives to an accomplice who detonated it at Jerusalem’s Sbarro pizzeria, killing 15 people, seven of them children, and wounding more than 130.
Tamimi has repeatedly gloated over what she did. She was given 16 life sentences, but was released in a prisoner exchange after just 10 years. Since then, he has lived in Jordan, where he hosts a talk show on Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds television.
Her husband, Nizar Tamimi, is a terrorist who participated in the murder of the Israeli civilian Chaim Mizrahi in 1993 and who was forced by the Jordanian authorities to leave Jordan for Qatar.
The United States wants Ahlam Tamimi to face trial in Washington on federal terrorism charges. They have repeatedly but unsuccessfully lobbied Jordan to comply with the extradition treaty signed between the Clinton administration and the current king’s father, King Hussein.
Last week, the Arab television of The BBC broadcast a report that sympathetically presented the story Tamimi wanted to tell about herself.
This six-minute article, entitled: “Ahlam Tamimi, your voice is strong and clear,” was framed as a sentimental human interest story that covered up the murderous activities of both Tamimi and her husband, and presented them as victims of censorship and Americans.
A few days earlier, a Jordanian radio host had cut her off while petitioning King Abdullah II to let her husband return to Jordan.
The BBC program concluded with a video of Ahlam Tamimi addressing the king for the second time, allowing him to make the request that Jordanian radio had censored.
The media watchdog CAMARA UK has noted that the show did not criticize any of the Tamimi. None of those killed in the Ahlam Tamimi terror attack were named. The article said that she was simply “accused of being involved” in the bombing in Jerusalem. (despite the fact that she herself publicly admitted the crime) and she made no mention of the reason for her husband’s imprisonment.
The real evil of the article on Tamimi is that it aired on the BBC’s Arab service. The BBC’s foreign language services have a worldwide reputation for broadcasting supposedly factual and reliable information to countries where factual news is rare.
However, This article gave a platform for a heinous terrorist to spread her propaganda, thus confirming the lies about Israel and the West that incite the Arab world to hatred and violence. More specifically, it added to the mythology that surrounds it in Jordan that, despite its peace agreement with Israel, it has a population consumed by hatred of Israel and Jews and for which the murderer Tamimi is a rock star.
This is not an isolated example. CAMARA UK, which focuses on the BBC’s anti-Israel bias, reports that since the beginning of the year the BBC news website covered only 5.3 percent of terrorist attacks that took place against Israelis. In six of the first nine months, during which there were 656 terrorist attacks against Israelis, the BBC did not report on any of them.
CAMARA UK also observed how the BBC framed the Abrahamic Accords between the United Arab Emirates and Israel in the most negative light. An edition of World Service radio’s news and current affairs program Newshour downplayed this deal, said it had not turned the dial at all on Israel “keeping millions of Palestinians under occupation,” and allowed a Palestinian spokesman to do Unfounded accusations about the “occupation” and the “siege in Gaza” without challenge.
Last month, the Jewish Chronicle reported that the City of David organization had complained to BBC executives about Rosie Garthwaite, a lead producer for the BBC working on a new documentary about Israeli activities in East Jerusalem. Her vice president wrote that she “had repeatedly presented us with one-sided and inaccurate statements” and that the program “seeks to vilify Israel, Jewish history and Jewish charities and present a number of false and misleading claims.”
The newspaper also found that Garthwaite admitted to sharing “inaccurate” pro-Palestinian propaganda on social media and had shared several other false or controversial claims about Israel, including the attack on “British duplicity” on the signing of the Balfour Declaration, wrongly suggesting that the “only” border of Gaza was controlled by Israel and retweeting a Middle East Eye article describing the troublemaker Ahed Tamimi as an “icon of the Palestinian resistance”.
This is just a small sample of the BBC’s institutionalized hostility towards Israel. For years, it has uncritically recycled Palestinian propaganda as innately credible and true, while treating Israeli statements of provable fact as mendacious propaganda.
It systematically downplays or ignores Palestinian attacks on Israelis and generally treats any outbreak of violence as a story that only “begins” (as a BBC reporter gleefully put it during an escalation of hostilities) when Israel retaliates by force. The Israeli victimization is simply not considered a story at all.
When Israel is forced to defend itself, the BBC frequently portrays its armed forces – the world’s most ethical and human rights-obsessed military – as monstrous child killers and aggressive destroyers.
The immediate and demonstrable effect on the British population is hatred of Israel and an increase in attacks on British Jews. It is no exaggeration to say that when it comes to Israel, the issue is not the BBC’s bias. It is the BBC’s incitement to baseless hatred.
The BBC is regarded around the world as synonymous with objectivity and precision. That is why their departure from those ideals is so pernicious.
However, perhaps the most chilling of all this is this. BBC executives are genuinely and painfully aware of the news network’s unique power and reach, and of their duty under its founding charter to maintain objectivity and fairness and keep the line for the middle ground.
But they are simply unable to process the fact that they view Israel, among other things, through a deeply distorting ideological prism. And this is because they relentlessly believe that the positions they hold are indisputably objective and fair, that they represent the middle ground, and that therefore, by definition, those who claim that the BBC is biased are themselves extremists and may be safely ignored.
In other words, the thought of the BBC group is a hermetically sealed system of thought. So if whoever takes control at the top wants to restore the once iconic BBC to elementary standards of objectivity, fairness and decency, they will have their job tailor-made.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for the “Times of London,” his personal and political memoirs, “Guardian Angel,” have been published by Bombardier, who also published his first novel, “The Legacy,” in 2018. Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access at your work.