The incoming director-general of the BBC, Tony Hall, has put a notorious Zionist apologist, James Purnell, in charge of strategy at the corporation.
By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
Mr Hall is due to take up his job as BBC boss on 2 April.
He replaces George Entwistle, who resigned last November following the controversy over a report broadcast on BBC television’s “Newsnight” programme which falsely implicated Tory financier Lord McAlpine in the North Wales child abuse scandal.
In his new post at the BBC, he will be in charge of the corporation’s policy, strategy, digital services, public affairs, communications, marketing and audience research – in other words, pretty much everything that matters in the BBC.
That is why anyone who cares about fair and objective reporting of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be gravely concerned, for Mr Purnell has a rock-solid record as a stooge of Israel.
Israel lobby background
From 2002 to 2004 James Purnell served as chairman of Labour Friends of Israel – heading a Zionist lobby group, it would seem, is a prerequisite for high office in Britain.
In December 2002 he paid a week-long visit to Israel, courtesy of Labour Friends of Israel. Upon his return to Britain he embarked upon an Israeli propaganda campaign aimed at persuading the British public that black is white and white is black – i.e. that the Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation are in fact the aggressors and that the Israeli occupiers, colonizers and oppressors of the Palestinians are, perversely, the innocent victims of the Palestinians.
Here is an example, published in the Guardian newspaper, in which he describes the apartheid wall almost as an angelic act of peace and benevolence:
From Britain, the wall looks like a land grab by the Israeli right – but from inside Israel (from the green line), it looks like a doveish move, which recognizes the legitimacy of two states, and seeks a less bloody way of controlling terrorism.
Mr Purnell is also on record describing critics of Israel as closet anti-Semites. In a letter published in Prospect magazine in December 2004, he said:
… As the (non-Jewish) chairman of Labour Friends of Israel for the last two years, I have been shocked by the occasional demonization of Israel that I’ve encountered. Israel’s government makes mistakes. So do the leaders of the Palestinians. But some people are trying to turn Israel into a global villain, the new pariah regime to take the place of apartheid-era South Africa.
I find it hard to reconcile that image to the reality on the ground – Israel is a democracy, suffering terrorist attacks, surrounded by countries that don’t recognize its existence, the victim of well-funded terrorist organizations that preach anti-Semitic hate. The Palestinians deserve a viable state, and are suffering real poverty and hardship. There is suffering on both sides-neither can solve this problem without the other.
So when some people talk as if Israel is entirely to blame, I ask why. The only answer I can find is that there is something deep in our cultural memory that makes us disposed to blame Jews. That tendency was put in its box by the holocaust. But today it re-emerges-occasionally, but persistently. I would call it passive, or unexamined, anti-Semitism.
Readers will find Mr Purnell’s equating of Palestinian and Israeli suffering bizarre and offensive, to put it politely. As Stuart Littlewood points out:
For the benefit of those who prattle about terror killings, here is the score. In the 12 years since the first Intifada (September 2000) up to the end of September 2012 Israel killed 6,550 Palestinians in their homeland. Of these, 1,335 were children. Over the same period Palestinians killed 590 Israelis in their homeland, including 85 children. This is a kill-ratio of 11 to 1. When it comes to children the Israelis are even more proficient, achieving a kill-ratio of nearly 16 to 1.
These figures, which come from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, don’t even take account of the slaughter perpetrated by Israel during its terror attacks on Gaza in November 2012.
Continuing BBC bias
The BBC’s history of bias towards Israel is well documented, and the reasons for this bias have long been the subject of serious academic studies, the best known of which is Greg Philo’s and Mike Berry’s More Bad News from Israel. In fact, an independent report commissioned by the BBC’s own governing body concluded in 2006 that BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture”.
The appointment of arch-Zionist James Purnell to the BBC’s top policy and strategy job will make sure that it stays that way.