For first time, British journalists officially vote to boycott Israeli goods

April 14, 2007

* With Britain as the base for influential international media such as the BBC, Financial Times, Economist magazine and Reuters news agency, British media lies about Israel have ramifications far beyond Britain

 

CONTENTS

1. British journalists need to stop using cellphones and computers
2. “Inshallah”: The BBC “goes native”
3. “NUJ votes to boycott Israeli goods” (The Guardian, April 13, 2007)
4. Email exchange between a BBC listener and a BBC news executive over the use of the term “Inshallah” by a “star” BBC Middle East reporter



BRITISH JOURNALISTS NEED TO STOP USING CELLPHONES AND COMPUTERS

[Note by Tom Gross]

I’ve been reviled and abused by some fellow British journalists for suggesting they are partisan against Israel. One particularly anti-Israel BBC correspondent told another BBC employee (a subscriber to this list) that he personally wanted to “kill” me.

Well here we have it. An official admission from many British journalists of antipathy towards Israel. For the first time, Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted to boycott a country, and that country is Israel.

The vote was taken late yesterday afternoon by delegates representing different branches of the NUJ.

Just to show what disregard British (and indeed most European) journalists have for the truth about Israel “The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza.” In case they haven’t noticed, Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, and indeed is maintaining a ceasefire even while Palestinian rockets continue to be fired from Gaza on an almost daily basis into Israel, aimed at civilians.

The NUJ motion also spoke of “last year’s war in Lebanon.” Of course there was a war in Israel too, where hundreds of civilians were killed and injured by Hizbullah rockets, but the National Union of Journalists seems not to have noticed.

Indeed the absence of those evil Israelis in Gaza has given free reign for the journalists’ beloved Palestinians to kill and intimidate and kidnap who they want. One of the latest kidnap victims is the BBC’s Alan Johnston, who no longer had the Israeli army there to protect him.

If British journalists really want to boycott Israeli goods, they better give up their desktop and notebook computers and their mobile (cell) phones, all of which have components developed and manufactured in Israel.

“INSHALLAH”: THE BBC “GOES NATIVE”

Meanwhile, the identification with Islam by some (non-Muslim) BBC staff seems to grow by the day.

I attach as the second item below correspondence between a British citizen (and hence a license-fee contributor to the BBC’s lavish news budget) and a BBC news executive after one of the BBC’s “star” Middle East correspondents, Hugh Sykes, in a report last month from Baghdad on BBC Radio Four’s PM programme, said: “The Deputy Prime Minister will, inshallah, be in hospital by now.”

The BBC’s Assistant Editor at Broadcasting House in London then defends his reporter’s use of the term “inshallah.”

-- Tom Gross



FULL ITEMS

NUJ VOTES TO BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS

NUJ votes to boycott Israeli goods
By Stephen Brook
The Guardian
April 13, 2007, 5.15pm breaking news

media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,2056880,00.html?gusrc=ticker-103704

The National Union of Journalists has voted at its annual meeting for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year’s war in Lebanon.

Today’s vote was carried 66 to 54 a result that met with gasps and a small amount of applause from the union delegates present.

The vote came during a series of motions on international affairs and reads: “This ADM [annual delegate meeting] calls for a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions and the TUC [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations.”

The motion was originally brought by the union’s South Yorkshire branch and opposed by the Cumberland branch, which said it was too political and was not tied closely enough to journalistic matters.

After a show of hands twice failed to give a clear result, union scrutineers were called in and the doors to the conference room closed.

The vote on the motion was taken after it was split from a larger motion that condemned the “savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel” last year.

This motion, known as Composite B in Order Paper 4, was carried by a large majority and also condemned the “slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the IDF’s [Israeli Defense Forces] continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah”.

The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories.

The union’s national executive committee has been instructed to support organisations including the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice in Palestine and the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.

 

“INSHALLAH”: THE BBC “GOES NATIVE”

The following is an email exchange (sent to my colleague Melanie Phillips) between a BBC listener and a BBC news executive over the use of the word “Inshallah” by a “star” BBC Middle East reporter on BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

-- Tom Gross


Subject: Re: Hugh Sykes’s ‘inshallah’
Sent: 25 March 2007 03:09
To: PM Feedback
From: Brian Gilbert

Dear PM,

Did I hear correctly did Hugh Sykes in his report from Baghdad on Friday 23.3.07 say ‘inshallah’, personally, and not as a quotation? Has he converted to Islam? I think we should know. Or is he using ‘inshallah’ casually as one might the English phrase ‘God willing’ which in contemporary usage has little religious content? Can ‘inshallah’ be so used drained of religious content? Or does Sykes intend it piously?

It is shocking to hear BBC reporters, who have a duty of impartiality, using religious phrases as their own from faiths they do not in fact share. Is it to become the fashion for non-Muslim reporters (many of whom may be atheists), to say ‘The Prophet, Peace be upon him’? The BBC should be clear to its listeners about this. If there is to be a mouthing of religious phrases in an effort at cultural ingratiation this should be a declared policy, and you should inform your listeners about it.

Yours sincerely
Brian Gilbert


Subject: Re: Hugh Sykes’s ‘inshallah’
Date: 27/03/2007 17:40:58 GMT Standard Time
To Brian Gilbert
From: Roger Sawyer

Dear Mr Gilbert,

Thank you for your email. I don’t agree that Hugh’s use of ‘inshallah’ was shocking. As I am sure you are aware, the phrase is used constantly, very often fatalistically, as an expression of hope that a certain course of events comes to pass and is not necessarily religiously loaded. It was not inappropriate for Hugh to use it.

If you wish to take your complaint further, details of how to do so can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Yours sincerely,
Roger Sawyer
Assistant Editor
Broadcasting House/PM


Subject: Re: Hugh Sykes’s ‘inshallah’
Date: 27/03/2007 21:01:25 GMT Standard Time
To: Roger Sawyer
From: Brian Gilbert

Dear Roger,

When I hear reporters on Al Jazeera using ‘For Jesus Christ’s sake’ or ‘Deo volente’ or ‘Shalom’ I might begin to regard ‘inshallah’ as value neutral. Until then, you’re kidding yourself and your listeners and poor old sentimental, lugubrious Hugh Sykes has, in the old unfortunate phrase, ‘gone native’ ...

Sincerely
Brian Gilbert


Subject: Re: Hugh Sykes’s ‘inshallah’
Date: 28/03/2007 08:42:09 GMT Standard Time
From: Roger Sawyer
To: Brian Gilbert

Dear Mr Gilbert,

I’ve heard Hugh say ‘Shalom’ to someone during an interview. It’s about empathy and has no more significance than his using ‘bonjour’ in a piece from France. Or indeed, a foreign reporter saying ‘goodbye’ in English, meaning as it does ‘God be with you’.

As I mentioned in my first email, there is a mechanism for you to escalate your complaint.

Yours sincerely,
Roger Sawyer
Assistant Editor
Broadcasting House/PM


Subject: Re: Hugh Sykes’s ‘inshallah’
Date: 28/03/2007 16:59:30 GMT Standard Time
From: Brian Gilbert
To: Roger Sawyer

Dear Roger,

Thanks for your reply. Empathy is good, although in this case Hugh was not speaking to his Iraqi but to his Radio 4 audience. Let’s hope Al Jazeera’s reporters show similar cultural empathy in their dealings...

Best wishes
Brian Gilbert

28/03/07

Dear BBC,

Please find below copies of the e-mails I have exchanged with Roger Sawyer of the PM programme regarding Hugh Sykes’s casual use of ‘inshallah’ in a report to his British audience 23.3.07.

I find it extraordinary that a reporter for the BBC can so casually use ‘inshallah’ as an equivalent for ‘God willing’ or ‘with any luck’ when addressing a British audience. Why should he do this? As a special effort at empathy? You must remember that many of those hoping to kill British and American soldiers, as well as innocent Iraqis, will be using the same expression regularly, and with religious intent. I have heard such fanatics do the same when interviewed by the BBC.

Using ‘inshallah’ to show empathy to Muslim Iraqis is something, I suspect, that is quite lost on Sykes’s British audience, who will not hear it as a simple ‘bonjour’ or ‘goodbye’ as Mr Sawyer asserts, but rather as a devout wish by a believer in Islam.

Sykes’s ‘inshallah’ is an example of cultural cringe, or sycophancy, or simply adopting the psychology of the adversary - a mental strategy well-known in times of stress but to be avoided, especially when, for example, a young student at Clare College, Cambridge, remains in hiding for fear of his life because he dared crack a joke about Islam in his college paper...

His head will still be on his neck in the months to come, ‘inshallah’!

Yours Sincerely
Brian Gilbert


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.