We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Yet More Bowen Arrows For Israel From Yet More BBC Quivers?

Middle East editor Bowen, at present on "book-writing leave"
Last week was quite a week for apologies by the BBC.  Having a complaints procedure that occurs entirely in-house, the arrogant "national broadcaster" with the "stand and deliver" method of funding rarely upholds complaints. The favoured method of dealing with allegations of bias from members of the public is for the flunkey responsible to issue to the hapless complainant the verbal equivalent of the two-fingered salute. 

But following a complaint by Conservative MP Louise Mensch, outgoing Director-General Mark Thompson has admitted that the Corporation erred in its lack of coverage of the Itamar massacre, blaming the concurrent big stories (the strife in Libya and the Japanese tsunami) for the deficiency:
"News editors were under a lot of pressure.  Having said that, it was certainly an atrocity which should have been covered across our news bulletins that day."
Meanwhile, a former BBC television news editor, Aziz Rashid, head of the BBC's Regional and Local Programmes in England's north-west, who axed Radio Manchester's Jewish show without bothering to consult Jewish communal leaders, has apologised to a delegation of the latter for the curt way in which he dealt with complaints from Jewish listeners, aghast at the disappearance of the radio slot.

But this is Al Beeb we're talking about.  And so, despite the sorries, the tsorres remains.

Now, the BBC Trust  has made public the findings of a generally favourable, indeed in some respects adulatory, report of the Corporation's coverage of the so-called Arab Spring, and the Al Beeb website is not slow to pass the news on.

(Funny that Al Beeb trumpets the findings of this, the Mortimer Report  –  Edward Mortimer is described as "Middle East expert and former UN Director of Communications"  – yet is so cagey about the contents of the Balen Report, huh?  Gee, that Balen Report must have harsh things to say about Al Beeb's attitude to Israel.)

Regarding the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen (who, incidentally, tweeted last week that he's on "book-writing leave") the Mortimer Report makes recommendations that should concern all who have impartial reporting and the interests of Israel at heart.

To quote Ben Dowell in The Guardian:
'The BBC has promised to review the workload of its Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, following a BBC Trust report urging that he be encouraged to "travel a little less".
Bowen, who has been in the post for seven years, is taking too many foreign trips and needs to be centrally located where he can lend his expertise to the BBC's strategic thinking about its coverage of the region, a report by former UN director of communications Edward Mortimer concluded.
Mortimer's report into the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the Arab spring, published on Monday, urged executives to limit Bowen's travel "so that he would have more time to share his insight and provide them with overall strategic guidance"....
The report concluded: "There is clearly a tension here, or a gap not easily bridged between the role of an inspired leader on the ground who has a huge patch to cover and does it superlatively well, and the role of people running the news machine back at base who continually have to make choices in terms of people, resources and audience engagement, and who perhaps cannot always get the advice they need, at the moment when they need it, from an expert who is out in the field."....
In its written response BBC management said it will "review the balance " of Bowen's work and the "emphasis we place on his strategic guidance" and hinted that it may limit his work on documentary features.
"We also conclude that there are dangers in releasing key broadcasters, such as the Middle East editor, to work on current affairs documentaries in the middle of a major story," the BBC added.
"While this undoubtedly enriched the BBC's output of the Arab spring as a whole, it mean that for a period daily news editors had less contact with his expertise and guidance of the coverage than they would otherwise have had."....'
Read the rest by Dowell  here
The Mortimer Report is available here

10 comments:

  1. Joe in Australia26 June 2012 10:48

    It's couched in diplomatic language, but I think it's a very clear and harsh rebuke for Jeremy Bowen and the BBC's coverage of the Middle East.

    Mortimer's suggestion that “BBC executives should encourage [Jeremy Bowen] to travel a little less, so that he would have more time to share his insight and provide them with overall strategic guidance” translates as "The BBC's Middle East unit lacks strategic guidance, and Bowen's not doing his job."

    The rest of the report is equally damning - where you would expect it to support the BBC's coverage it uses qualifying adjectives like "generally", and exculpatory phrases such as "given the challenges involved ...." The implication is that the BBC's coverage needs apologies because of its constant failures.

    Finally, the BBC has said that Bowen's role is being reviewed. In other word, he has effectively been sacked. The "book-writing leave" is merely confirmation of this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joe, for that most interesting interpretation. You have certainly provoked much thought! What, I wonder, will the book be about, and will it show Jezza's own prejudices!

      Delete
  2. Someone on the Biased BBC site links to this insight into Edward Mortimer, who appear to be no fan of Israel:
    http://www.newenglishreview.org/print.cfm?pg=custpage&frm=3195&sec_id=3195

    ReplyDelete
  3. Look at this!!!
    Who are the writers you recognize as shaping your vision of the ME region?

    Maxime Rodinson. Walid Khalidi. Mohamed Sid Ahmed. Fred Halliday. Ernest Gellner. Kanaan Makiya. Edward Said – even though, of course, they disagreed strongly with each other. Perhaps above all Israel Shahak, whom you may not think of as a writer, but he wrote indefatigably – thousands of pages translating bits of the Hebrew press which he knew the government press office would never translate; long handwritten personal letters; and one or two important small books, especially “Jewish History, Jewish Religion”. A strong and brave man, not always right perhaps, but one of those who makes it just about tolerable to be a member of the human race…
    http://www.righttononviolence.org/?p=1261

    ReplyDelete
  4. OT
    The excellent Gatestone Institute has an article on the PA's bid at UNESCO
    Birthplace of Christ Used in Bid for Palestinian Statehood
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3131/church-of-the-nativity-unesco

    "The issue is not genuinely about a two-state solution – as many are fooled into believing. Lethal opposition to the State of Israel remains fierce. This tiny democracy, Israel, which lives by individual freedoms, equal justice under law and respect for universal human rights, is an affront to these autocratic regimes."

    "The drive to have the Church of the Nativity recognized as a global heritage site is nothing short of offensive. Christians have been driven out of their ancestral lands; Palestinians have shown nothing but hostility to both Christians and Jews. Moreover, Christ himself was a Jew.
    Upon the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, Bethlehem had a Christian population of over 80 percent. With the rise of the Muslim population, Christians dwindled in numbers. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority took over the town in 1995, thanks to the Oslo Accords. Along with the PA, came a tribal political system which caused Bethlehem's Christian population, already at 15%, to further sink to 2% today. Under this political system Christians are targeted, seen as inferiors, and subjected to threats, violence, discrimination and acts of terrorism."

    ReplyDelete
  5. OT
    EoZ in The Times of Israel (good site btw)

    How many Palestinian refugees are there?
    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/how-many-palestinian-refugees-are-there/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Whoever is 'issuing apologies' has nothing to do with decisions on the ground, because things are getting worse. For example, somebody high up is making a point of inviting the notorious anti-Semite Abdel Bari-Atwan on to various discussion programmes (despite the many complaints made against him) including some that actually have nothing to do with 'Middle East politics'. This means the BBC can allow unchallenged anti-Israel abuse just about anywhere any time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Edgar. I've blogged in the past about Mr Bari-Atwan and the BBC's warm hospitality to him. The BBC is incorrigible. You may have seen a post I did last week re the BBC College of Journalism joining forces with the Frontline Club to host John Pilger!

      Delete
  7. I feel Jeremy should travel more. The further he stays away from us, the better!

    In general the BBC needs an Ombudsman. I have played with the idea of them outsourcing their complaint system but I expect that will be, if anything worse. What would some underpaid clerk do if he/she realised that they could be quietly fired if they stepped out of the BBC line? I would out BBC the BBC.

    I've always worried that when the Balen finally is released, we will be very disappointed by its blandness. Malcolm Balen's resume as a BBC man suggests he would be programmed to come through with a 'we-got-it-just-about-right' report, only hinting at criticism. The BBC's line is that if both sides criticise they have fulfilled their obligation for neutrality. It's not hard to find balancing nutcases that the BBC is actually pro-Zionist. Balen probably had them on speed dial.

    I suspect the BBC fought so hard to prevent its release, not so much for its contents but to protect its F.O.I. exemption from any outside examination on anything that can be, however remotely, connect with journalism. To them, protecting the BBC from prying eyes is worth an unaccountable £200,000 of someone else's domestic license fee money.

    BTW Ian. As ludicrous at it appears, some Christian groups, and that includes Palestinian Christians, publicly blame the Christian exodus on Israel.

    ReplyDelete