Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The "charities" are guilty, not the BBC (for a change)

The Corporation is right not to run the Gaza appeal. Oxfam and others are clearly anti-Israel

Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, is quite right to refuse to broadcast the appeal of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) for humanitarian relief for Gaza, but not for the reason he thinks. He is under the impression that it will damage the BBC's reputation for impartiality in reporting the Israel-Palestine question, but the fact is that the BBC does not have any such reputation, having for years been institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. The reason that his decision is brave and right, however, is that many of the 13 charities that make up the DEC are even more mired in anti-Israeli assumptions than the BBC itself.

Mr Thompson rightly appreciates that the issue of humanitarian relief in this conflict is quite unlike humanitarian relief for victims of a tsunami or a famine.

Who adjudicates on which victims to support via such charitable aid - and according to whose political morality? Why did the BBC not launch an appeal for the victims of collateral damage during Nato's bombing of Serbia in 1999 during the Kosovo campaign? And had it done so, would it have given money to ethnic Serbs as well as to Kosovars and Bosnian Muslims, all of whom were "cleansed" during the Balkan wars of that decade? What about the victims of insurgencies and counter- insurgencies in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Chechnya or Georgia? Or Israeli victims of the next Hamas suicide attack? Indeed, what about the Palestinian victims of Hamas's hideous human rights abuses, still so shamefully under-reported by the British media as a whole?

And who are these supposedly impartial charities who are attacking Mr Thompson's (albeit belated) attempt to uphold the Corporation's traditional standards? While groups such as the British Red Cross and Christian Aid are generally impartial in other areas of the world, that cannot be said to apply to their role in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, where they regularly view the conflict through a deeply partisan lens.

In the months prior to the decision by Hamas to end the six-month ceasefire and resume rocket attacks, these charities issued a flood of one- sided denunciations aimed at Israel. Their campaign repeated tendentious and often highly inaccurate terms such as "collective punishment" and "violation of international law". On March 6, 2008, CARE International, Cafod, Christian Aid and Oxfam (among others) published a widely quoted report under the headline "The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion". The authors did not bother to hide their political bias against Israel, repeating standard Palestinian political rhetoric and including claims that Israeli policy "constitutes a collective punishment against ordinary men, women and children" and is "illegal under international humanitarian law".

The report was wrong on many counts, including allegations over the availability of food and basic necessities, which were later contradicted by both the World Bank and World Health Organisation, neither of which are exactly Israeli stooges. The fact that Hamas chose to pursue war with Israel rather than the welfare of its people, was not covered in these reports. There was no sense that any of these claims might be disputed by the other side or by genuinely neutral observers.

During the three-week war, Oxfam and other charities were extremely active in the ideological campaign that highlighted Palestinians as the sole victims and Israelis as the sole aggressors. Numerous Oxfam press statements included language such as: "The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law."

Violence against Israelis, including deaths, are virtually ignored by Oxfam officials, who have referred to "collective punishment illegal under international humanitarian law yet tolerated by the international community". For those of us who reject such gross ideological bias, which absolves the Hamas leadership for a confrontation which they openly sought, such statements by charities are unacceptable and should not be rewarded by the BBC.

The final issue is the fraught one of the practicability of actually distributing the aid on the ground. After Hamas seized total control of Gaza in June 2007 there have been many well-documented reports of Hamas officials diverting assistance for themselves. On February 7 last year, for example, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that "at least ten trucks with humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip by the Jordanian Red Crescent Society were confiscated by Hamas police shortly after the lorries entered the territory". Journalists also reported that the aid was "unloaded in Hamas ministry warehouses" and that a similar seizure took place in January 2008.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, used to say that Hamas was like a bird that needed two wings to fly - the armed branch, but also the charitable-welfare side of the organisation. Do the 13 charities and their political allies that are so vocally attacking the "cowardly" BBC really have the guts and wherewithal to do a proper audit on how those monies might be spent in today's Gaza Strip? I, for one, do not believe it.


Roe and Doe, 36 years on

by Jeff Jacoby

A new anti-abortion TV ad appeared last week, just in time for the inauguration of a president whose support for abortion rights is unqualified. The ad shows the ultrasound image of a fetus in the womb. As the camera slowly moves in, a message gradually appears onscreen:

This child's future is a broken home.
He will be abandoned by his father.
His single mother will struggle to raise him.
Despite the hardships he will endure. . .
this child will become. . .
the first African-American president.

Then, alongside a picture of President Obama, comes the closing message: "Life: Imagine the Potential."

Last week also brought the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, and with it the annual March for Life on Jan. 22. Tens of thousands of Americans, most of them in their teens and 20s, gathered in Washington to implore the new president to help end "the intentional killing of an estimated 3,000 pre-born boys and girls each day," in the words of an open letter on the March for Life website. For his part, Obama issued a statement restating his support for abortion rights and insisting that Roe v. Wade "protects women's health and reproductive freedom."

Endlessly, the abortion battle goes on. The absolutists -- the "Keep Abortion Legal" and "Stop Abortion Now" contingents -- are forever polarized, but most Americans want to have it both ways. In poll after poll, substantial majorities say that abortion should be legal only in limited circumstances, if not banned outright. Only about one voter in five wants abortions to be legal at any time for any reason -- i.e., abortion on demand. Yet by equally clear majorities, Americans say that they support Roe and would not want it overturned.

But these are irreconcilable positions. Contrary to popular belief, the Supreme Court did not allow states to ban late-term abortions or restrict abortion on demand only to the first three months of pregnancy. To be sure, it appeared do so. Justice Harry Blackmun's majority opinion in Roe declared that states could not regulate abortion at all in the first trimester and could do so thereafter only "in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health." Once a fetus became viable, Blackmun wrote, states could regulate and even prohibit abortion, "except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother." Those 20 words became the exception that swallowed the rule.

Roe wasn't the only abortion case the court decided on Jan. 22, 1973. In a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the justices decided that "medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment."

Taken together, Roe and Doe meant that abortion could not be barred at any stage of a pregnancy. The "attending physician" could always say that in his medical judgment, the woman's "emotional" or "familial" health made it necessary to abort her unborn child. The result has been 36 years of abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy.

Americans can be forgiven for not realizing what Roe really wrought. It has never been easy for its supporters to acknowledge its true impact. Chief Justice Warren Burger, who concurred in the decision, was sure that abortions would be performed only "on the basis of carefully deliberated medical judgments," not merely for reasons of convenience. "Plainly," he wrote, "the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortion on demand."

Burger was wrong, but he wasn't alone. Right from the start, the media have gotten it wrong, too. The morning after the decision, The New York Times reported on Page 1 that the high court had "overruled today all state laws that prohibit or restrict a woman's right to obtain an abortion during her first three months of pregnancy." That mistake has been repeated endlessly in the 36 years since.

Since 1973, more than 40 million US pregnancies have ended in abortion: Ours is the most liberal abortion culture in the advanced world. Reasonable people can differ over whether to preserve Roe or overrule Roe. But surely the way to begin is to understand Roe.


Why is Israel Suspicious of the United Nations?

1. Before 1990, Security Council passed 175 resolutions, 97 were directed against Israel (It is 55% of all resolutions).

2. Before 1990, UN General Assembly voted on 690 resolutions, 429 were directed against Israel (It is 62% of all resolutions).

3. The UN was silent when Jordanians destroyed 58 Synagogues in Jerusalem.

4. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

5. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

6. The UN was silent while for 18 months Israel was terrorized by indiscriminate suicide bombing campaign unleashed by PA leadership.

7. There are 60 Muslims countries in the UN. As well as many more are others Arab oil dependant states.


9. Israel is the only country excluded from the U.N.'s regional group system. Since Israel does not belong to any group, it is the only country of 190 member states that is not eligible to serve on the numerous U.N. commissions.

10. In recent years, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights has annually passed five resolutions condemning Israel. This year, they passed seven. By contrast, each of the following countries/regions has been the subject of only one resolution: Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Russia/Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Southeast Europe and Sudan.

11. Nov. 29 is the United Nations Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People. No other people has a U.N. Day of Solidarity.

12. Israel is the only state to which a special investigator with "an open-ended mandate to inspect its human rights record" is assigned by the U.N.

13. It is the only state targeted by two special committees and special units of the U.N. Secretariat ostensibly devoted to the Palestinians but in reality dedicated to Israel-bashing worldwide, costing millions of dollars a year.

14. UNIFIL, the U.N. force stationed on the Israel-Lebanon border, hid a videotape of Israeli soldiers being abducted by Hezbollah in October 2000. After finally admitting to having the tape, the U.N. would only show an edited version (in which Hezbollah faces were hidden) to the Israeli government.

15. UNESCO, in Paris, began passing resolutions about protection of Jerusalem holy sites and access for Muslims in 1968. No resolutions about protection or Jewish access were passed from 1946 to 1967 when Jordan controlled Jerusalem and barred Jews from entering.


The BBC does it again

Note that this was not broadcast live. It was a version pre-approved by the BBC. But of course "There's no such thing as right and wrong" to Leftists

The foul mouth of shamed Jonathan Ross put his BBC career on a new knife-edge yesterday-just minutes after he returned to Radio 2 from his three-month suspension. The mega-bucks star's crude joke about sex with an 86-year-old woman infuriated listeners. And last night as it emerged that the woman is a REAL PERSON with ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE there were mounting calls for Ross to be SACKED from his 6 million pounds-a-year job.

The shocking blunder came while ad-libbing on air with producer Andy Davies about an elderly woman neighbour then urging him to "give her one last night". They were a mere eight minutes and 35 seconds into yesterday's big comeback show following Ross's Beeb ban over the Sachsgate scandal, when he and comedian Russell Brand left filthy phone messages for 78-year-old actor Andrew Sachs. It came just after 10 o'clock in the morning when families and children were listening.

Ross, 48, and freelance 43-year-old Davies had been discussing how they spent their time during the suspension. Davies said he did some bricklaying in the garden of his villa in Spain but kept getting grabbed by a frisky 80-year-old woman. Ross finished up by declaring: "Eighty, oh God! I think you should, just for charity. "Give her one last night, will you? One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?"

The banter ended abruptly there without any explanation. The Ting Tings' record That's Not My Name was played and the pair did not return to the story afterwards. It's not known if Ross was ordered to stop the sequence. But reaction was swift. Tory MP David Davies was listening to the show with his young children and demanded the BBC immediately sack Ross. He raged: "On Radio 2 you don't expected X-rated references to sex, and especially sex with an 80-year-old, during the day. "I was listening with my kids to this. There's a place for humour but it has to be appropriate to the time of the day. And that clearly wasn't. "He should have gone ages ago. There's no way this man should be on the air. He needs to be replaced now! "It's obscene, especially given the amount of money Ross is being paid. It could also be highly offensive to this woman if she's a real person."

Last night at producer Davies's home near Granada in Southern Spain his wife Abigail-who listened to the broadcast there-confirmed that the pensioner DOES exist. She said: "It's very sad because she has Alzheimer's Disease. She takes a fancy to any man in the street and tries to kiss them." Giggling, she added: "I shouldn't be laughing because, as I say, it's very sad, and she doesn't really realise what she's doing. "I sometimes walk her home because she gets confused about where she is."

Meanwhile former Home Secretary David Blunkett called for Ross's pay to be docked as a result of this latest incident. He said: "It's time for Ross to donate some of his salary to charity."

Regular Radio 2 listener Nigel Langstone, 43, from Leamington, Warwickshire, was furious over Ross's comments and said: "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "He gets kicked off air for three months for hounding an old man with disgusting comments about his grand-daughter. "Then virtually the first thing he does after getting back is start telling a gag about sex with an 80-year-old woman. How insensitive can you be? "It just shows he's learned absolutely nothing and is a loose cannon who can't be controlled. "What's worse is that the exchange happened with his own producer-the man who's supposed to control him. "The BBC is totally OUT of control. They've no idea how much offence they're causing. "Ross should be taken off air immediately. He's a timebomb waiting to go off."

Ross's latest gaffe came a day after BBC bosses heavily censored his comeback TV show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.

Mediawatch, which campaigns for "socially responsible broadcasting", last night joined the call for the star to go. Director John Beyer said: "Making jokes like this is not acceptable. He should have gone three months ago and I haven't changed my view."

But Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, refused to condemn Ross. He even declined to listen to a transcript of the crass comments and said: "You're not going to expect me to make any comment on this, are you?" BBC Director-General Mark Thompson - on 816,000 a year of licence-payers money - REFUSED to discuss the incident and hung up on us. Later the corporation defended Ross in a statement which said: "Regular listeners will be familiar with Jonathan's irreverence and innuendo. "This light-hearted exchange contained no offensive language, named no individuals and there was clearly no intention to offend anyone."

But Ross himself was clearly embarrassed as he tried to wriggle out of his latest gaffe when he was confronted by the News of the World at his 3 million home in Hampstead, North London, last night. At first his wife Jane answered the door and insisted he had done nothing wrong. But when we asked if Ross was hiding behind his wife he came to the door and said: "I hope no one has been upset by the show. "It was a kind of light-hearted remark about giving her a cuddle. "It wasn't `give her one'-I meant, `Give her one last cuddle.' You know there was no malice intended. There was no harm intended, OK?"

That was at 5.30pm. But two hours later he issued a statement through his public relations expert attempting to wriggle yet further and shift the blame. His second version of what happened said: "It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast. "As far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes, as is common practice on radio and comedy shows across the country. "Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended and, if the media wasn't hell bent on stirring up controversy, I'm sure none would be taken."

In fact, the story was completely ACCURATE, as confirmed by Andy Davies's wife. She also contradicted Ross by pointing out that she-like thousands of other ex-pats who listen in on the internet-heard the whole show perfectly clearly at her Spanish home. Strangely her husband, who commutes from Spain to London, last night claimed in a statement issued through Radio 2 and approved by senior BBC bosses: "It is completely untrue to suggest that I was referring to a real individual on the programme, nor would I have told such a story about anyone suffering from dementia. "The story was poetic licence based on the warm and affectionate behaviour experienced in Spanish village life. I did not identify an individual because there isn't one."

Yet three hours earlier, in a phone interview with the News of the World, his wife Abigail had confirmed she actually KNOWS the woman, she DOES have Alzheimer's and even gave us the pensioner's name. She is well-known to locals but we are keeping her identity secret to protect her privacy.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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