Greg Philo, Victoria Brittain, Abdel Bari Atwan and Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty last night.
Last night at Amnesty journalist Abdel Bari Atwan held up an old JC front page, which had a headline about him that he didn’t like, and claimed he gets worse coverage than Adolf Hitler.
He spoke along with Tim “But Hamas was democratically elected” Llewellyn and Phil “We wait in fear of phone calls from the Israelis” Philo, while Victoria Brittan chaired and made sure not to take any pro-Israel questions in the Q&A. So much for Amnesty claiming:
“Those who disagree with MEMO, or indeed any apsect of the event, are of course welcome to attend and make their point in a reasonable way.”
We were treated to default rhetoric about Israel controlling the media and dominating ALL the political parties. Llewellyn said the problem was with the political system in this country where “the Liberal, Labour and Conservative parties, were definitely completely and utterly dominated by the pro-Israeli lobby”.
And during the Q&A Abe Hayeem, of Architects for Palestinians, complained that “Jewish Media, specifically the JC and Jewish News, ingrain propaganda in the community”.
Philo was there to, basically, flog his new book More Bad News From Israel but spared the time to accuse Israel of having a “sophisticated propaganda system” which led to the BBC making inappropriate statements like “Israel’s attack on Hamas enters its second week” when it should be speaking of “Israel’s attack on the Palestinians”.
He spoke of the way the media portrayed Israel as just responding to rockets, but ignored Israel’s attacks in the previous three years and that “many children had been killed”.
As a consequence, said Philo, although the public had sympathy for the Palestinians they wanted the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel. They were repeating the language of the news that Israel “had to respond”.
He quoted a woman in one of his focus groups who said:
“When I saw the pictures of the dead children, it was dreadful. I was in tears. But it didn’t make me feel that the Palestinians and Hamas were right. I think the Palestinians haven’t taken the chance to work towards a peaceful solution.”
Philo said it was like she was reading out the Israeli press material. Philo asked the interviewee afterwards what was the source of her beliefs and her reponse was “(BBC) Radio 4. Avid Radio 4 listener. I got it all from there”.
When Philo told her that it was Israel that broke the ceasefire before Operation Cast Lead and that Hamas had agreed to stop the rockets if the blockade was lifted she claimed, apparently quite affronted, “that can’t be so, I would have known that”.
He said the reason for the lack of truthful information in the media was the pressures that journalists, especially those at the BBC, were coming under. One said “We wait in fear of the phonecall from the Israelis. The only issue then is how high up from their organisation has it come and how high up our organisation it has gone.” He said that minutes before going on air journalists have been discussing words they are allowed to use.
“That is the level of tension inside the organisation. Journalists aren’t biased, but are just playing it safe,” he said.
Former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn, couldn’t wait to slag off his old employer. He had already written a Guardian piece that day accusing the BBC of “imbalance and distortion” over their “coverage of Israel and Palestine”. The piece is a rehash of his Guardian article of seven years ago. What fun around the dinner table Llewellyn must be!
His main complaint last night though was about the BBC’s Death in the Med which, he said, portrayed the Israeli soldiers who boarded the boat as acting in “self-defence” when they killed some of those on board the Mavi Marmara.
His talk was basically a rant about how the BBC didn’t properly address his complaints. He referred to one response from the BBC as a “tendentious piece of garbage”. Well, join the club, Tim!
He even felt sorry for Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s current Middle East correspondent, who is also, apparently, constrained in what he is allowed to say:
“Short of defying their bosses at the BBC I cannot see what they can do. Defying their bosses means they will be shoved sideways or fired. The system is weighted against many BBC, ITV and other reporters. I can feel Jeremy Bowen’s pain as he is dancing around the basic question. If he has no courage to confront the BBC, then I despair.”
As for Bari Atwan, or Barry as he likes to be called, he really is “the special one”. He moaned about how BBC’s Newsnight kept mysteriously dropping him at the last minute for the likes of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Imagine that, Barry being dropped in favour of a world statesman! How low down can Newsnight get.
And, apparently, the Israel lobby even caused the BBC to stop him being referred to as a Middle East “Expert” or “Analyst” and he was targeted by said lobby for being the “most impressionable”. Talking about putting onself on a pedestal.
But then came his Hitler rant. To suggest that Jews might think him worse than Hitler really is a case of exaggerating his self-importance.
You can hear all this below and there are some photos of the protest outside Amnesty and a clip of Victoria Brittain summing up. In the clip she is referring to Abdullah Abul Rahma, who has recently been released from prison, and the village of Nabi Saleh and what happened there “last Friday”. She wants you to ask yourself why you didn’t see this on any TV screen. I have watched the clip (below) but cannot see anything that could possibly knock Al Qaeda, Libya, Syria or Bahrain out of the headlines.
But then, having been brainwashed by the Jewish Chonicle, I would say that wouldn’t I.
Counterintuitively, I came out of the meeting pleased that they were creating their own monster about Israel. Making people feel paranoid must be Israel’s latest weapon.
Peter Benenson was the founder of Amnesty.
Pro-Israel activist outside Amnesty. MEMO is accused of supporting Hamas.
Audio of last night’s talks:
Greg Philo at Amnesty, 23rd May.
Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty, 23rd May.
Abdel Bari Atwan at Amnesty, 23rd May.
Q&A at Amnesty, 23rd May.