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A Network Reporter Should Know Better
Last uploaded : Friday 2nd Jul 2004 at 16:43
Contributed by : Carol Gould



Every time I vow I will never write another article lamenting the anti-American bias and the undercurrent of what I perceive as anti-Semitism in both the media and social circles, another bombshell drops.

On the front page of ‘The Jewish Chronicle’ of 25th June 2004 is an account of a book launch at the Glasgow University Media Group. The new book, ‘Bad News from Israel’ by Greg Philo and Mike Berry, focuses on the coverage of news from the Middle East on television.

As I read the report in the JC by Jenni Frazer, my eyes began to bulge when it was asserted by the authors that news coverage of Israel and the Palestinian territories is heavily biased in favour of the Jewish State. Unless Philo and Berry watch Fox News and nothing else, my conclusion, on reading this article, was that they must live in a parallel universe. This week, two people including a small child were killed in Sderot inside Israel by a Palestinian rocket attack. This was briefly reported on the British news networks and in turn a retaliatory strike by Israel was reported, including news of the death of a nine-year-old Palestinian boy who had been playing football near the air strike.

Unless one lives on Mars one knows that Great Britain has an overwhelming number of champions of the Palestinian cause who are on television daily and whose reports appear in all of the UK’s newspapers.

Melanie Phillips is the only voice given space. Julie Burchill, a non-Jew, wrote an impassioned piece last year saying she could no longer endure the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel atmosphere at 'The Observer/Guardian.' Barbara Amiel was another articulate and passionate advocate of fairness in coverage of the Middle East, but she has been 'downsized' by the Telegraph (her husband, Lord Black, was a non-Jewish defender of Israel's right of survival but now he is fighting for his own survival in an ugly corporate scandal.) Lady Black has been given less space in The Spectator and it was reported by the historian and novelist AN Wilson (not exactly a friend of Israel, but nevertheless chivalrous in his defence of Lady Black) that there were hurrahs at The Telegraph that her pro-Israeli 'rants' would not longer be read.

The passionate and ubiquitous UK critics of Israel include Robert Fisk; Faisal Bodi; (he wrote a memorable piece entitled, 'Israel Simply Has no Right to Exist' in 'The Guardian' in January 2001 -- imagine the outcry if an Anglo- Jewish writer had penned a diatribe entitled, 'Egypt Simply has No Right to Exist') George Galloway MP; John Pilger; poet Tom Paulin; actors Corin and Vanessa Redgrave; Jeremy Corbyn MP; the aforementioned AN Wilson; art critic Brian Sewell; comedian Alexei Sayle and Polly Toynbee among many others. On BBC Orla Geurin is a relentless reporter of Israeli attacks on Palestinian areas and is given generous air-time. One would have to wrack one's brain to find as long a list of defenders of Israel.

Now I wish to get to the 'nuts' of the report by 'The Jewish Chronicle:' in Ms Frazer's report she says that Tim Lllewellyn, a working journalist most recently employed by the BBC gave a speech at the Glasgow book launch in which he asserted that Dennis Ross, the former United States envoy to the Middle East under President Bill Clinton was an example of a Zionist who had changed his name to hide his Jewish roots. According to the 'JC' Lllewellyn is reported to have said 'What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Dennis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist'a Zionist propagandist.' He chastised broadcasters who invited the 'insidious' Mr Ross to speak.

Llewellyn also described Israelis as having '..learned all sorts of tricks. They are wizards at communications..they speak ten different sorts of English, from American to South African to Canadian..' (Those of us who regularly lament the often poor to nearly incomprehensible communications 'skills' of Israeli spokesmen on television would love to know where these 'wizards' are hiding.) Llewellyn may spend more time these days working with think tanks than at the BBC, but he is a journalist and is expected to uphold certain ethical standards.

John Pilger, the Australian-born journalist known best for his reporting on the Vietnam conflict appeared at the same book launch and is reported by the 'JC' as stating that there is a 'violent lobby' for Israel. One wonders if Mr Pilger can elaborate on how many of his kin have been physically injured or their property damaged or blown up by Jews. Had the Jews been an inherently violent people their long history of persecution and massacres in the name of Christianity might have had a different outcome.

By the time I had finished reading Jenni Frazer's excellent account of the book launch I was feeling ill. As a journalist bound by certain rules and as a former network television broadcaster myself bound by the strictest rules of public behaviour, I am astounded that Llewellyn has not been publicly rebuked by the BBC. I had deliberately waited a week to write this report in the hope that I would hear of a major action taken by the NUJ and BBC.

This is why Tim Llewellyn's comments about Mr Ross and his 'nice Anglo Saxon name' are deeply offensive not just to Jews but to all decent human beings in our modern multi-cultural world:

1. Countless Jews in my native United States and here in Great Britain had to change their names to stop the stream of abuse and persecution they endured in the workplace or in their search for work during the Depression.

2. Immigration officials in Liverpool and New York often changed the names of Jewish arrivals because they were unpronounceable.

3. Nice Germanic gentile-sounding names or not, the SS had no compunction about rounding up millions of Jews, including a million children for genocide. I suggest Tim Llewellyn go to West London Synagogue in London's Upper Berkeley Street and read the large book of names of just one locality whose entire Jewish population of 'nice German sounding names' was annihilated.

Mr Llewellyn should walk around a small town for a day and announce himself as 'Abe Goldstein' and see the murky looks he will receive, akin to the looks received by Muslim girls in headscarves. The irony of it all is that in France headscarves have been banned in schools to encourage Muslims to 'assimilate.' The ancestors of Dennis Ross assimilated; should he wear a kippah before appearing on BBC'

Against a backdrop of anti-Semtiism George Gershwin; Samuel Goldwyn, Jesse Lasky; Oscar Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein and many other greats did not change their names; their immense talent transcended persecution; the talent of Steven Spielberg and the wonderful torch singer and actress Barbara Rosenblat continues to transcend the aforementioned murky looks. Those in publci life whose names appear 'Anglo Saxon' will always have grim stories to tell about the plight of their pogrom-wracked forebears.

It causes deep dismay that a fellow journalist can express a view on an aspect of Jewish culture and history that is so painful (count the 'Goldbergs' in the annals of Yad Vashem ) and that one would expect from an unenlightened spokesman for a right-wing agitation group. There is another aspect to this affair that is alarming: increasingly the world's media are lumping all Jews into a Sharon/Likud camp. Lest we forget that Dennis Ross was a tireless campaigner to bring the warring factions together during Oslo. He may, like Daniel Pipes, feel inclined to defend Israel's sovereignty when all sides of an issue are explored, but he is not by any stretch of the imagination a Zionist agitator.

I might have thought I was over-reacting to the 'JC' report had I not seen a comment by Eric Moonman, president of the Zionist Federation. '..The meeting was a shock because of the dishonesty and arrogance of the speakers.'

In today's 'JC' a letter has been published giving background on the speakers. Professor Barry Kosmin states in his letter that Mr Llewellyn is on the executive Council for Arab-British Understanding, which Prof Kosmin asserts is a pro-Arab lobby group. He further explains that the speakers and authors are part of a group of writers whose work includes 'How America Gets Away with Murder' and 'Anarchitex.'

Whatever his associations, Mr Llewellyn, as reported in the 'JC' has expressed something I have not heard in my lifetime. My late parents used to tell me about the 'farbissiners' who made sarcastic remarks about 'Oh, Gould, formerly Gold' Goldstein'' but those sentiments went out of fashion with the infectious pride asserted by the Black Revolution in America that gave other ethnic groups the courage to stand up and be counted and accepted as they are.

Lastnight on Fox News Bill O'Reilly interviewed his fellow anchor, John Gibson, who has been censured by the British government, according to the Fox report. He had been particularly caustic about the actions of BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the Dr David Kelly affair. Gibson correctly stated that it is a golden rule in British broadcasting that anchors and reporters not editorialise. O'Reilly, in unusually mellow tones, waxed lyrical about the BBC and its high standards.

Tim Llewellyn should remember those hallowed rules.

Carol Gould is a broadcaster and author of 'SPITFIRE GIRLS'(published UK 1998), the story of the 180 women pilots of the RAF's Air Transport Auxiliary in World War II.


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