Letters to the Editor, December 8, 2023

Leftists and Jews, Melanie Phillips and the BBC

December 07, 2023 12:00

It’s about ideology

Vivian Silver, the peace activist brutally murdered on October 7, said there were a hundred ways to peace. Perhaps, but there is just one lethal ideology to undermine them all: Islamic Jihad. Whether employed through weapons or more surreptitious means of political, economic, educational and media manipulations, it aims to inflict a supremacist and supercessionist ideology on naïve and unsuspecting westerners.

Yet Labour’s David Lammy (Every chant of anti-Jewish hatred is an attack on the UK, 1 December) hopes for a political solution to the ideological/religious conflict dressed up as a territorial one. Perhaps he could start with influencing the PA to cease the institutional indoctrination of children to hate Jews and Israelis. Mahmoud Abbas is yet to condemn the Hamas atrocities, so the road to attainment of “moral clarity” seems long and windy.

“We must never turn a blind eye on forced displacement”, cries Lammy at what might happen. We didn’t hear such a concern when the gates of many countries opened to give sanctuary to over five million Ukrainians under Russian bombardment. Neither do we hear the world’s moralists pressurising Egypt to accept their Gazan co-religionists now in mortal danger.

Lammy cites peace with Egypt as an example of how bitter enemies can reconcile their differences but he doesn’t mention that Anwar Sadat was only able to pacify his opponents by invoking the peace treaty of Hudaybiya, which was broken by Muhammad at the first opportune moment. This assurance turned out to be insufficient to prevent Sadat’s death at the hands of the Jihadis.

Lammy implies Israelis are insensitive to the pain of Gaza’s children, but Israelis can look into their eyes because they have identified evil clearly — the evil that hides behind and harms its own people while pursuing a genocidal goal. Our Bible teaches us that a misplaced compassion in battle inevitably results in far greater future losses. The responsibility for every death lies with Hamas. Israel is not morally confused.

Eda Spinka

London NW4

Leftist blind-spot

Melanie Philips neatly captures the unfortunate leftist blind-spot (Even now, the threat to British Jews is not being taken seriously, 1 December). Many left-wingers harbour glaringly contradictory views. On women’s rights, gay rights and racism, I can — on the face of it — find common ground with them. But digging deeper, they’re intoxicated by anti-Zionist antisemitism, as well as a pro-Islamist mentality that forgives the crimes of Hamas and focuses on the perceived shortcomings of the only Jewish state, with no contextual understanding towards, or desire to comprehend, why Israel behaves the way it does.

Their anti-racist mentality is therefore undermined by toleration of Jew-hate and their pro-woman and pro-gay views are rubbished, too, by their silence on state-sanctioned, murderous homophobia in Gaza — and their wilful blindness to the mass rape and torture of Israeli women by Hamas terrorists.

They care about gay people unless they’re Palestinian; they care about women unless they’re Israeli; and they care about racism — unless, of course, it’s antisemitism.

Sebastian Monblat

Surbiton KT6

BBC and Bowen

Last week’s article on BBC staff defying the ban on attending the March Against Antisemitism contained a photo of a man holding a placard proclaiming “Not my BBC” (Jewish staff defied BBC to attend march, 1 December). He is described as “an attendee” at the march.

Let me dispel the aura of mystery surrounding that gentleman. He’s called Jonathan and is a British-Israeli dual national, who grew up in Stanmore and attended Haberdashers as a lad. He’s lived for twelve and a half years in Israel, including long periods on kibbutz and national service in the IDF. He and his wife, Ran Sun from South Korea, now live in the sunlit, forested uplands of Leighton Buzzard. He is me.

For well over twenty years I’ve been unhappy with BBC coverage of Israel and the wider Middle East due to constant inaccuracies and bias. No matter how well grounded in fact and logic, any written complaints were always brushed off with condescending and ill-informed replies. So I gave up.

I watched the recent interview with Jeremy Bowen in which he admitted making a mistake when he claimed that an IAF airstrike had “flattened” the Al-Ahli Hospital causing mass casualties. He nonchalantly shrugged it off and said he didn’t regret it. That gave me the final push to make the placard. Many at the march expressed support for the “Not my BBC” message. I was also heartened to see the caption, which said, “Here’s what we think”. In other words, the JC believes (rightly) that many in the Jewish community are fed up with BBC bias. I believe there are also millions of non-Jews out there who are fed up with the BBC’s flagrantly partial coverage of current affairs. These sentiments have become stronger and more widespread since the Israel-Hamas war began.

During the march I was interviewed by Konstantin Kisin of the Triggernometry YouTube channel who asked why I thought the BBC was biased. I attributed it to mediocrity rather than antisemitism, which can be difficult to prove as I don’t claim to be able to look inside people’s souls. With the honourable exception of Frank Gardner, their Security Correspondent, I would point out that ignorance of history, Middle Eastern cultures and military matters, and an inability to speak Hebrew or Arabic, make it unlikely that a journalist will say anything of interest or value about the Middle East.

Jonathan Karmi

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

V Jeremy Bowen stood in the ruins of Sderot police station, pointing out the stains on the walls as the blood of dead and injured Israelis, and went on to make the point that Hamas, in carrying out their attack in full knowledge that a severe response was bound to come from Israel, showed how little they cared for the safety of the people of Gaza.

People who imagine him as a fact-twister on the Jewish state should remember this. Reaching for the off switch as soon as he comes on will just reinforce their mistake.

Though his employer comes in for stick alleging anti-Israel bias,  Radio 4 in fact gives a fair bit of time to people such as Lt Col Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman well worth listening to as he lays out the justification for the steps Israel has had to take and informs listeners of the care they take in doing so.

Interviews with relatives, friends and neighbours of people killed or kidnapped by Hamas and their accomplices have also been a feature of Radio 4 news.

On the other hand there have been voices alleging bias by the BBC in favour of Israel - so strongly that the broadcaster’s offices have been daubed in red paint, accusing it of having Palestinian blood on its hands.

To a person standing on a steep slope, flat land in front of them is apt to look like an opposing slope. It also strikes me that some people have not been slow to use Israel’s tragedy as a peg on which to hang other agendas, including the controversy over TV licences.

Jeffrey Lewis

Whitefield M45

Cynical and thoughtless

V The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem has cancelled Christmas celebrations. Pastor Munther Isaac announced that, instead of the usual Nativity display, an image of a baby Jesus lying amongst the rubble of Gaza would replace the manger scene as a message of Jesus being in solidarity with Palestinians. How cynical and thoughtless to misuse the image of a new-born Jewish baby boy, and what that symbolises to the world’s Christians, when there are actual Jewish babies presently entombed in Gaza.

Stanley Grossman

Hon Secretary Scottish Friends of Israel, Glasgow


V I refer to David Glasser’s plea to visit Israel, (Please visit Israel, 1 December). As a strong supporter of Israel, with close family living there, I would like to do so asap.

The main impediment to doing so is an inability to have travel insurance that will cover Israel. So long as the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against all but essential travel to Israel this will be the case.

My observant son in Israel suggested that if I insist on having insurance cover I contact Chartered Insurers HaKodesh Baruch-hu. He means that I should come and trust in Hashem. Baruch Hashem – the war will soon be over; Israel will be victorious as best possible and some peace will come to our Jewish homeland.

Stephen Miller

Stanmore, Middlesex

December 07, 2023 12:00

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