‘Cowardly’ BBC tells comedian Israel’s attack on Gaza is out of bounds for satire

Frankie Boyle, the comedian, has written an open letter criticising the BBC governing body’s ”cowardly rebuke” of his jokes about the Palestinian territories.

A woman in Zanna is overcome by the destruction in the village following heavy Israeli tank fire and air strikes over almost a week.

A woman in Zanna is overcome by the destruction in the village following heavy Israeli tank fire and air strikes over almost a week.

Obviously, it feels strange to be on the moral high ground but I feel a response is required to the BBC Trust’s cowardly rebuke of my jokes about Palestine.

As always, I heard nothing from the BBC but read in a newspaper that editorial procedures would be tightened further to stop jokes with anything at all to say getting past the censors.

In case you missed it, the jokes in question are:

“I’ve been studying Israeli Army Martial Arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back.”

“People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well… that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.”

I think the problem here is that the show’s producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal, was an appropriate target for satire.

The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers. It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.

The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes.

It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.

I told the jokes on a Radio 4 show called “Political Animal”. That title seems to promise provocative comedy with a point of view.

In practice the BBC wish to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content. The most recent offering I saw was BBC2’s “The Bubble”. It looked exactly like a show where funny people sat around and did jokes about the news. Except the thrust of the format was that nobody had read the papers.

I can only imagine how the head of the BBC Trust must have looked watching that, grinning like Gordon Brown having his prostate examined.

The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate. It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way. We didn’t just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn’t bear that people were being treated like that.

A few years ago I watched a documentary about life in Palestine. There’s a section where a UN dignitary of some kind comes to do a photo opportunity outside a new hospital.

The staff know that it communicates nothing of the real desperation of their position, so they trick her into a side ward on her way out. She ends up in a room with a child who the doctors explain is in a critical condition because they don’t have the supplies to keep treating him.

She flounders, awkwardly caught in the bleak reality of the room, mouthing platitudes over a dying boy.

The filmmaker asks one of the doctors what they think the stunt will have achieved.

He is suddenly angry, perhaps having just felt at first hand something he knew in the abstract. The indifference of the world.

“She will do nothing,” he says to the filmmaker. Then he looks into the camera and says: “Neither will you”.

I cried at that and promised myself that I would do something. Other than write a few stupid jokes I have not done anything. Neither have you.

— Frankie Boyle

Reposted from Stop the War Coalition.

BBC is becoming a national disgrace. They keep repeating the myth Israel is under threat and is acting in self defence.

When airlines cancelled flights to Israel, the Prime Minister complained to the US, and asked that the airlines be forced to fly as there was no risk.

Comment posted on facebook:

It’s an irony that a group left here last week for vacation and tour in Israel. So far not one word of sirens or rockets on FB. Just nightclub life and sunbathing.

Today a school was hit. A UN school, a place of ‘alleged’ safety. The UN had given coordinates. Not the first school to be hit.

BBC duly reported the Israeli line, it was a Hamas rocket. Those on the ground dispute this, and say no evidence it was Hamas (not reported by BBC).

The World at Ten had an interesting interview with an analyst at the Washington based Brookings Institute. The analyst took the side of Hamas, pointing out Israel had failed to keep to terms of previous ceasefire, and that it was rationale of Hamas to demand lifting of blockade (which was agreed in previous ceasefire). No surprise, the interview was cut short.

The World at Ten then had a much longer piece on the rise of anti-Semitism in France.

This is what the BBC calls balance. Only it is not balance, it is a contrived balance.

Jon Snow, veteran Channel 4 journalist, and currently in Gaza, has produce far higher quality reports, and noted what Gilad Sharon (son of war criminal Ariel Sharon) had to say in a prominent front-page article in the Jerusalem Post:

“We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too”.

Which is exactly what we are seeing as the policy pursued by Israel in Gaza.

Passing through the Gaza checkpoint back into Israel, Jon Snow had a destructive electronic signature on his MacAir. It would not do, after all, to have journalists coming out of Gaza with evidence of Israeli war crimes.

Another myth repeated endlessly by BBC, is that Hamas is using civilians as human shields. This is disputed by those on the ground, and has ironically been disputed by Jeremy Bowens, veteran BBC reporter, but not on BBC instead writing in New Statesman.

Another myth endlessly repeated by the BBC is that civilians are not being targeted. This is disputed by those on the ground.

It is not only BBC with pro-Israeli media bias.

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