The story so far:
BBC Middle East editor writes internal memo about Israel-Palestine issues.
Internal memo doesn’t stay internal (such things rarely do) and the usual suspects (ie, Jews) get all huffy about anti-Israel bias at the BBC, which the author of the memo defends eloquently, if perhaps a wee bit disingenuously.
The anti-Israel blogosphere springs into action, complaining voluminously how the evil Zionist lobby thought police are trying to prevent The Truth from ever being heard.
Of course I’m biased, but the things I instantly pick out of Bowen’s memo are its sneering contempt for Israel and a tendency to gloss over the shortcomings of the Palestinian leadership. Childish, smart-arsed parenthetical asides about transvestism are hardly a way to demonstrate respect or lack of bias about your subject. Neither does a lengthy discussion of Israel’s corruption scandals without a word on Fatah’s endemic corruption – ‘scandal’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.
But I’m biased. People who hold different views from mine might pick out other problems in this text to prove it is biased against their way of thinking.
The true test of unbiased journalism is that it pisses off people on both sides of the argument equally.
This memo, clearly, does not. There is almost nothing here for the Palestinian side to get annoyed about; and using it to demonstrate a pro-Israel bias at the Beeb seriously stretches the credibility of all but the most arduous Israel-haters.
What I want to know is, why do people on the anti-Israel side of the fence cry foul every time some pro-Israel organisation kicks up a stink about bias in the media? Are they not allowed to express their opinions?
Isn’t ‘biased’ a code-word for ‘disagrees with my opinion’ and ‘balanced’ code for ‘agrees with my opinion’? Could someone please tell me when anti-Israel side took out trade marks on these words that prevent anyone else from using them?
Or are we going to dispense with rationality entirely and start babbling anti-Semitic stereotypes about who controls the media?