I was invited as a guest on BBC1’s The Big Questions last Sunday, hosted by Nicky Campbell. The topic was the alleged rise of anti-Semitism. I must confess I hadn’t heard of the programme before. The programme, rather ambitiously, tackles 3 topics in a one-hour slot – and they were violent video games, inter-ethnic adoption and anti-Semitism. It was about 2 topics too many!
The 20 minute session on anti-Semitism was almost a text-book example of how, subtly and almost unnoticed, the BBC’s establishment bias is seamless and pervasive. Zionism, which shares the same viewpoint as anti-Semites, viz. that Jews belong in Israel not in the Diaspora, was entirely absent from the fight against Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930’s and the National Front in the 1970’s, is nonetheless concerned about ‘anti-Semitism’ today, or rather ‘new anti-Semitism’ i.e. opposition to Israel.
There were a number of invited Zionists including Jeff Goldberg of the London Jewish Forum, one of 3 platform speakers, Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Zionist Federation, a Zionist rabbi, a couple of assorted Zionists, an idiot Israeli, Hadar Sela, who apparently couldn’t read her own passport and was therefore not aware that there is no such thing as an Israeli nationality and of course Mark Gardener of the Zionist Community Security Trust. [CST]
Sela also didn’t (apparently) know that the 20% of Israelis who are Arab or non-Jewish, don’t (except for the small Druze community) serve in the Israeli army. More probably she was more than aware of all of the above but believed that lies serve the Zionist cause more effectively than the truth. She certainly has good reason to hold such a belief.
Nicky Campbell called her repeatedly and failed to challenge her statements at any time, which says a lot for the (lack of) research behind the programme. It was also noticeable that Campbell failed to get the quite basic point I made, which was that if the Board of Deputies of British Jews [i.e. all Jews] goes out of its way to organise rallies in support of Israeli war crimes, then it is hardly surprising that some people believe them. A simple point but one that seemed to elude him. I got the feeling that Campbell is cerebrally no Paxman or John Humphries!
On our side there were just 2 anti-Zionists – Prof. Chaim Bereshit of the University of East London and myself. Despite this, and together with Black and Muslim members of the audience, we more than held our own! But even the build-up to the programme, with stories of an Essex scout troop having shouted ‘yid, yid, yid’ on Remembrance Day at Jewish veterans, whereas in fact it was one Scout, was not contextualised. My father told me that in the 1930’s if you were a Jew you couldn’t walk down certain streets in the East End of London without being physically attacked and in fear of your life. The few and far incidents today, at worst mostly verbal or cemetery daubings, often a consequence of Israel’s claim that it is a Jewish State acting on behalf of all Jews, are not comparable with what Jews experienced in the past. Indeed such claims of anti-semitism merely trivialise the very real racism that Jews experienced in the Europe of the first half of the last century.
Today in Britain there is no state racism directed against Jews, and it is noticeable that Gardener of the CST boasts of his organisation’s close links with the Metropolitan Police, who were responsible for the torture and abuse of Barbar Ahmad, who was paid £60,000 in damages for their criminal assaults. In other words a thoroughly racist police force, which the Jewish establishment sees as its ally.
Zionist Federation representative, Sacerdoti, had the chutzpah to claim that the Rally in Support of Israel earlier this year, was a ‘peace’ rally despite the fact that it echoed the pretext for Israel’s attack, the ‘terrorism’ of the besieged victims of Gaza and their elected representatives Hamas whilst not uttering a word of condemnation of Israel’s murderous attack which took the lives of 1,400 people including 400 children. At no time of course did it call for a halt to Israel’s bombing of civilians. And this is a Zionist peace rally!!
Sacerdoti, when asked by Campbell whether a denial of Israel’s right to exist was anti-semitic, replied in the affirmative. Yet this is a loaded question. Was it racist to say that the Apartheid State of South Africa or similar states had no right to exist? Certainly a racist state, whatever its name, has no right to exist and must be dismantled. But if you equate a state with the people living under its control, then we revert to the ideology of Nazi Germany, that the State is everything and the role of the people is to serve the State.
But what is really at issue are the so-called European Union Monitoring Committee’s Working Definition guidelines on anti-semitism. One example given is ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ Even leaving aside the muddleheadedness of the definition, which is what one would expect from a State sponsored attempt to define a political philosophy, the idea that Jewish people form a nation or race (and historically the terms were used interchangeably) was the staple diet of anti-semitism. So we have the irony that the main definition of anti-semitism used by Zionism today is itself anti-semitic!!
As Shlomo Sand, in The Invention of the Jewish People writes:
‘There were times in Europe when anyone who argued that all Jews belong to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today’s Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jewish hater.’
What was interesting is that the statistics of the shadowy CST were taken as given by Campbell. When I questioned them and suggested there were lies, damned lies and statistics, Campbell turned to Gardener to ask what the statistics were, without once questioning whether the CST and its £100,000+ head might have a vested interest in creating ‘anti-Semitism’ as a counter to the very real oppression of Palestinians. This is how bias in the BBC manifests itself. Not in the crudities of Stalinist propaganda but in more sophisticated taken-for-granted assumptions. Gardener of course was apoplectic. ‘I am really really appalled… to actually deny the integrity of the statistics…’. As well he might be!
However Gardener knows that the allegation is not new. In the Jewish Chronicle of 5.10.05., an article by Jenni Frazer entitled ‘Charge: CST ‘bumps up’ attack figures’ reported a Channel 4 programme “A War Against Prejudice,” which makes just such an accusation. It has also been accused of physical attacks on Muslims, i.e. anti-Muslim racism. ‘CST rejects Muslim claims over stewards’
The CST is a body that is neither accountable nor transparent. Indeed it is a most opaque organisation. Its trustees are not listed, almost uniquely, on the Charity Commission website. Its accounts do not list its donors. It is a multi-million pound operation making £1m + surpluses each year [as you will find on the Charity Commission website] and at least 3 employees are paid over £100,000. There can’t be many anti-racist organisations so well funded and with such rich employees!
The CST, which polices Zionist meetings, physically attacked a Jewish heckler at the Rally to Support the Attack on Gaza earlier this year and as a matter of policy excludes Jewish anti-Zionists, for which it has been condemned by Liberty. On one occasion it even got it wrong and excluded the left-Zionist Mapam organisation as well as groups like the Jewish Socialists Group. Yet this organisation, mainly consisting of ex-Israeli security personnel has never once been involved in anti-fascist mobilisations, still less the demonstrations against the EDL and naturally played no part in campaigns against the pro-Zionist BNP. Yet the BBC and Campbell accepts it as a neutral unbiased recorder of statistics when its whole modus operandi is to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
Gardener is in fact an extremely right-wing Zionist, who is quoted only this week in the Jerusalem Post as stating that Shlomo Sand’s book The Invention of the Jewish People was anti-Semitic. The book has spent 19 weeks on the Israeli best-sellers list. True it debunks most of Zionist mythology about the Exodus, European Jews originating from Palestine as opposed to the Khazars by the Black Sea and explains that there is no scientific evidence to support the biblical myths. A worthy academic debate you might think. But no. To Gardener it is anti-Semitic!
And likewise the irrepressible co-Chair of the Zionist Federation Jonathan Hoffman stated in the same article that:
‘”Sand’s agenda is to sever the historic link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,… To promote that agenda his book ignores archeological and genetic evidence.’
Now when Nick Griffin tried to explain that his racism is really a wish to trace our lineage back to the original white inhabitants of these islands some 17,000 years ago, as the Ice Age was ending, , people mocked him. But Hoffman and Gardener are saying exactly the same thing. Gardener talks of a ‘common lineage, kinship and peoplehood between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.’ This could be Alfred Rosenberg talking of the blood links between the German Volk and the soil of Greater Germany. It is utterly reactionary and racist nonsense but it underpins the ‘historic’ claims that Zionism made for settling Palestine.
There was a time when it was the anti-Semites who sought to ‘prove’ that genetic evidence proved that the Jews were a separate race and nation. Now it is the Zionists who are protesting that genetic ‘evidence’ is being ignored. In fact genetics tell us nothing about ‘race’ still less about any Jewish association with Palestine.
Perhaps the most effective contribution came from the retired Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, who recalled that he too was called an anti-Semite when he questioned the Israeli attack on Gaza and its murder of over 400 Palestinian children. And therein lies the truth. It is therefore ironic that the EUMC Definition of ‘anti-semitism’ includes ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’ Presumably it had the Board of Deputies in mind!
What conclusion should one draw? That one cannot expect the BBC, with its record over the Disaster Emergency Appeal, which it refused to show, to be unbiased on Palestine. The BBC almost invariably takes the same position as the government of the day and when it doesn’t, as was the case initially over Iraq, then it gets hauled over the coals as in the Hutton Report. Yet the natural sympathy of people in Britain is with the underdog and Israel, despite its pretensions at being a victim, is seen by most people as the United State’s bully in the region. And its well-heeled supporters are likewise seen as defenders of the indefensible trying to portray themselves as victims.