Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BBC calls in the Israel-haters to explain anti-semitism

From the Adloyada blog

Norm has done a very good job of fisking Professor Steven Rose's contribution to the BBC Today Programme's discussion of the report of the Parliamentary All-Party Enquiry into anti-semitism in Britain.

Poisonous stuff, says Norm. He can't see how any educated man comes to be able to speak as Rose does, blaming Israel and the Jews who support Israel for the existence of anti-semitism.

Personally, I've never had any difficulty in seeing how educated people, even professors, are able to speak as Rose does. It's been something of an old established art form, developed by stellar intellectuals from Voltaire, through a very large proportion of the professoriate of Wilhelmine and Weimar Germany to the equally large number of academics who stand alongside Steven Rose to this day in calling for an academic boycott of all Israeli universities.

No surprise there, then. What is worthy of the note is the way the Today Programme excelled even its already dubious record in framing its presentation of this key Parliamentary report. That was presented this morning through the perspectives and analysis of two ferociously anti-Israel activists who have a track record of blaming Jews for anti-semitism and accusing them of crying anti-semitism as a diversion from criticism of Israel.

The Today Programme's first discussion of the report was presented through a debate between Ian Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader and a member of the Parliamentary All Party Committee, and Inayat Bunglawala, leading member of the Muslim Council of Britain. Inayat Bunglawala has a track record of saying things which indicates that he sees "the Zionist lobby" as a conspiratorial power out to use accusations of anti-semitism as a diversionary tactic.

So that debate shifted away from being an explanation for listeners of what the PAPC report actually had to say about anti-semitism to being a discussion whether the Muslim Council of Britain was right or wrong to refuse to participate in UK Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations.

Then, right at the end of the programme, Professor Steven Rose was presented as the leader in a discussion, not of the report, but of whether Israeli actions are responsible for anti-semitism. Rose was invited to make a lead contribution, which he duly and totally predictably used as a platform to deliver a tirade that anti-semitism is indeed on the increase in Britain today, but that it is caused by Israel. Not just Israel's actions in the Lebanon war, or in the conflict with the Palestinians, but seemingly Israel's very existence, for most of Rose's tirade was a series of claims that Israel is racist, an apartheid state, etc. Professor Shalom Lappin was called on to respond, but I think he made a mistake in buying into the debate on Rose's terms rather than drawing attention to what the Today Programme had done in setting up such a debate in the first place. The usually faultlessly articulate Lappin seemed to me to be driven onto the back foot of stating that, yes, Israeli universities are open to Arabs, Druse, Muslims and Jews.

Where was the discussion of what the report actually had to say?

I find it very difficult to imagine the Today Programme choosing to present any Parliamentary report on Islamophobia and attacks on Muslims by inviting Irshad Manji and Nonie Darwish to lead the commentary.

Let alone having one or other of them argue that Islamic leaders and regimes are responsible for racist attacks on Muslims in Britain.


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William said...

This article is confusing aa a standalone piece as there is not enough context. But one thing is clear - antisemitism is on the increase in Britain - as is racism generally - and the trend is profoundly disturbing.