By Jonathan Hoffman
May 26, 2011
On Monday I blogged about a meeting at Amnesty in London where a new book was on sale by Professor Greg Philo called "More Bad News About Israel." The theme of the book and the meeting was that the BBC is biased in favour of Israel. According to Philo, Israel has “a very sophisticated propaganda system”....“All their speakers are organised to give the same message …. BBC journalists “wait in fear for the phone call from the Israelis”.
Here is the response of a well-placed BBC source:
It's just silly to suggest that corporately the BBC is "pro Israel". In the first place, reports vary from reporter to reporter. Some (in my view) tend to have a default position whose subtext is that only real obstacle to a Middle East settlement is Israel. Others are impeccably balanced.
Secondly, while I think there is some truth in the notion of "fear" from the Israeli side, in practice I don't think it's anything like as vocal as the Palestinian side which tends to be much better organised and co-ordinated.
That's not to say that there isn't a vocal Israeli side, but it's a broader spectrum than the Palestinian side. For example, there's a big difference between, say, "Just Journalism" which I think is admirably fair and measured, and the US organisation, "Camera" which does sometimes take a "my country right or wrong" approach.
Just because the Israelis may be "pleased" with the BBC's coverage of the Mava Marmari incident, seems to carry an assumption by Greg Philo, that the coverage must therefore have been unfair, inaccurate, bias etc. I mean, the evidence that the MM organisers and especially those on the top deck saw the mission pre-eminently as an opportunity to confront the Israeli Navy on the high sea is very powerful indeed. Those are the facts, and they are now available from several published sources and frankly anyone who can't accept that isn't really in a position to pass any sort of credible judgement about the bias or otherwise of the BBC's coverage.
Pretty damning of the theory of BBC pro-Israel bias, don't you think?