Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bowen 'breached rules on impartiality'

The BBC Trust have published an astonishing attack on Jeremy Bowen, claiming that he has "breached the rules of impartiality" when he stated this in an article entitled, "Six days that changed the Middle East":

The Middle East editor referred to "Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier". He wrote that Israel showed a "defiance of everyone's interpretation of international law except its own" and that its generals felt that they were dealing with "unfinished business", left over from the 1948 War of Independence.

The committee ruled that Bowen's reporting partially breached the BBC's rules on accuracy and impartiality.

"Readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war," it said. "It was not necessary for equal space to be given to the other arguments, but ... the existence of alternative theses should have been more clearly signposted."

Is it now official BBC policy that stating the obvious is somehow breaching the rules of impartiality?

What are the settlements? Are they not a classic example of Israel's desire to "push out the frontier?" Are they not the perfect example of ,"defiance of everyone's interpretation of international law except its own?"

The BBC have let it be known that Bowen will not face any disciplinary measures, which is small comfort as they have badly damaged his reputation as their words will be seized upon and used as proof that the BBC suffers from some terrible bias against the Israelis.

And yet, nothing which Bowen has said is false.

Robert Fisk:

Let's go step by step through this pitiful business. Zionism does indeed instinctively "push out" the frontier. The new Israeli wall – longer and taller than the Berlin Wall although the BBC management cowards still insist its reporters call it a "security barrier" (the translation of the East German phrase for the Berlin Wall) – has gobbled up another 10 per cent of the 22 per cent of "Palestine" that Arafat/Mahmoud Abbas were supposed to negotiate. Bowen's own brilliant book on the 1967 war, Six Days, makes this land-grab perfectly clear.

Anyone who has read the history of Zionism will be aware that its aim was to dispossess the Arabs and take over Palestine. Why else are Zionists continuing to steal Arab land for Jews, and Jews only, against all international law? Who for a moment can contradict that this defies everyone's interpretation of international law except its own?

Even when the International Court in The Hague stated that the Israeli wall was illegal – the BBC, at this point, was calling it a "fence"! – Israel simply claimed that the court was wrong.

UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 called upon Israel to withdraw its forces from territories that it occupied in the 1967 war – and it refused to do so. The Americans stated for more than 30 years that Israel's actions were illegal – until the gutless George Bush accepted Israel had the right to keep these illegally held territories. Thus the BBC Trust – how cruel that word "trust" now becomes – has gone along with the Bush definition of Israel's new boundaries (inside Arab land, of course).

The BBC's preposterous committee claims that Bowen's article "breached the rules [sic] on impartiality" because "readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war".

Well, yes of course. Because I suppose the BBC believes that Israel's claim to own land which in fact belongs to other people is another "sensible" view of the war.
This is the same BBC which was so gutless that it refused to broadcast an appeal for the people of Gaza, causing Tony Benn to take to their airwaves and make the appeal over their heads:

I have considerable sympathy for the BBC who are put under intolerable pressure every time they report the truth about what is happening in the Middle East.

But this kind of pandering to the Israeli lobby is simply unconscionable. It's time the BBC grew a spine. Israel's supporters won't love the BBC because they have said this; indeed, quite the opposite. This will be banded about as proof of some dreadful BBC bias.

But I'd love someone to explain to me why Israel's determined and continual expansion of her territory through settlement building is not evidence of an, "innate instinct to push out the frontier."

Click title for full article.

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