Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Distinction Without a Difference

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News has apologised after one of its presenters, Maryam Moshiri, described people taking part in marches in support of Palestine as backing Hamas.

Thousands of people marched in solidarity with Palestine on Saturday, demanding an end to Israel's relentless bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip, which has so far killed at least 2,750 Palestinians, including over 1,000 children.

Moshiri said on X, formerly known as Twitter: "Earlier we reported on some of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations at the weekend.

"We spoke about ‘several demonstrations across Britain during which people voiced their backing for Hamas.

"We accept this was poorly phrased and was a misleading description of the demonstrations."

This was apparently not enough for (apologies for a journalist and MSNBC host (alas, contradictory roles)

To argue that many of the protestors were not voicing their support for Hamas would be to suggest that they are extraordinarily stupid. They had been warned that to express overt support for the terrorist group would be to subject themselves to arrest. Thus, and rationally, they instead virulently protested Israel and enthusiastically promoted "Palestinians.

But as is fully understood by anyone paying attention- any attention whatsoever- to what is happening in the Middle East, the war to which the marchers were responding is not taking place between Israel and Palestine or between Israel and the Palestinian people.

It is between Israel and Hamas. Period (or .).  Support for the group outlawed in Great Britain was replaced, wisely, with chants about Israel and the Palestinians, as if all Palestinians were alike or this conflict pitted the Palestinian Authority against Israel. No one believes it does, not even Hasan.

Moreover, the problem between the PA and Israel has been existed for decades. These protests broke out only after the war began, quite clearly demonstrating that the passion felt by the demonstrators for the Palestinians of the occupied territories is exceeded by their enthusiasm for Israel's current enemy, Hamas.

The irony in this instance is twofold, however.  One is that Richard Kimble is innocent, which I typically note when the matter of irony appears. The other is that Mehdi Hasan (and two other colleagues at MSNBC) should recognize more than others that a reporter indirectly suggesting support for one side against the other should not be fired, penalized, or in any way demeaned by his employer.

Speculation abounds that MSNBC has sidelined- as hosts- Hasan, Ayman Mohyeldin, and Ali Velshi, who in the past ten days have expressed anti-Israel sentiment from their anchor chairs. (Each also is a Muslim, which is irrelevant because the likelihood that corporate behemoth MSNBC/NBC/Comcast would discriminate against a Muslim runs between 0% and 1%, with 1% heading out-of-town.) MSNBC denies this because if its viewership gets wind of it being pro-Israel, there would be a severe backlash among its followers.

But if the cable news network does believe one or more of its show hosts is unacceptably pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas, or anti-Israel, there is a much better way to handle it, albeit one antithetical to its journalistic culture. These guys could interview someone with a starkly different perspective on the war, and engage him or her with a series of challenging questions. This would be entertaining, and probably, informative television, which appears to be something the network wishes to avoid.

Nonetheless, here is Mehdi Hasan figuratively slapped down for presenting a different perspective on the war. Or (less likely) he has not been downgraded, in which case he can appreciate that the network he works for is maintaining an open mind. Yet, Hasan believes the BBC should apology a full-throated, more assertive apology for what he (naively) believes is a prejudicial tilt against the anti-Israel protestors.  Self-awareness is not his strong point. (Neither is modesty.)

As an American, I believe open expression of support for Hamas should be permitted. But in view of Alliteration Tuesday, it should be understood that this terrorist force should be destroyed, demolished, and decapitated.

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