Surreal in Solihull

This is a guest post by Israelinurse

Last week I was approached by the BBC with a request to appear on its BBC1 Sunday morning live religions and ethics debate programme ‘The Big Questions’ as what is termed an ‘expert contributor’. The subject of the debate was to be ‘Is antisemitism on the rise in the UK?’.

Obviously, there is not much debate to be had on that subject as the data gathered by the ever-meticulous CST proves, so it was quite clear that the real debate would be why antisemitism is increasing and I had no doubt that accusing fingers would be pointed in Israel’s direction. I informed Hawkeye of the invitation I had received, and agreed to his request to act as CiF Watch’s representative on the programme.

From the outset, the producers of the programme were well aware that I occasionally contribute to CiF Watch and other forums out of a personal belief that there is a pressing need to try to counteract the tsunami of distortions and downright lies regarding all things Israeli in much of the British media. Indeed, in my initial telephone conversation with the programme’s assistant producer I raised the subject of the BBC’s suppression of the publication of the Balen Report at an estimated cost of some £200,000 so far to the license-fee paying British public. Despite this, they decided that they wanted me on the show.

Then, a couple of days before the journey to Birmingham, I received a further phone call instructing me that I must not mention The Guardian on air. My protests that this rather Fawlty Towers-style ‘don’t-mention-the-war’ restriction was absurd were met with the explanation that as no representative of The Guardian would be present at the time of broadcast, and therefore that organisation would not have the right of reply, there was a danger of legal action being taken against the BBC which they were keen to avoid.

After consulting with Hawkeye and trusting in the intelligence of the British public to connect between a blog called CiF Watch and the publication concerned, I decided that there was in fact no need to mention the ‘G’ word, and so decided to go ahead despite the gag-order.

Upon arriving at the broadcast venue early on the Sunday morning, I considered it prudent to check with the assistant producer exactly under which ‘tag’ (the potted description under one’s name when one appears on screen) I would be appearing. Yet another moment worthy of the Fawlty Towers script writers ensued when I was informed that they did not wish to define me as being connected to CiF Watch as “the public will not know what that is”. So much for the media’s duty to inform; apparently if the public doesn’t know, the BBC isn’t going to tell them!

Having already sacrificed my weekend, there was nothing to be done at this point but just get on with it. Imagine then my joy, dear reader, when I discovered that the ‘expert contributors’ on the opposite side of the debate were none other than Haim Bresheeth and our old friend Tony Greenstein – the latter complete with a ‘Boycott Israeli Goods’ lapel badge the size of a jam jar lid, which fortunately did not make it into the studio. Interestingly, at some point during the programme, both of the above had their ‘tag’ written as ‘Vilified by Zionists’. Now that you really could not make up!

Despite the frustrating format of the programme which at best only allows one to make one or two points in soundbite style, I think we managed to counteract the argument that Israel’s actions are the root cause of antisemitism reasonably well. Alex Goldberg, Jonathan Sacerdoti and Mark Gardner from the CST were all in excellent form and some very pertinent observations came from Rabbi Arkush in the audience.

For those who managed to view the show, the entirely disgusted look on my face at one point aimed in Tony Greenstein’s direction was due to his telling me off-microphone that I had no idea what I was talking about and that I know nothing about Israel!

One does have to ask oneself if a TV programme such as this can in fact make any worthwhile contribution to highlighting the worrying trend of rising antisemitism in Britain. Personally, I very much doubt it. The claim made by the show’s host Nicky Campbell whilst we were in the ‘Green Room’ before the broadcast that the Balen Report is merely a ‘journalistic’ issue serves only to strengthen my view that the ‘group-think’ within the media industry is so well rooted that business – in all senses of the word – will continue as usual until some brave and pioneering producer will stand up and question the commonly held premises which currently prevent the media from tackling the real truths behind the increase in antisemitism in Britain and many other countries.

As long as broadcasters are afraid of legal actions on the part of other media organisations and more concerned about gaining PC credibility by ‘giving a balanced view’ than doing any real analysis …… I’m not holding my breath.

35 replies »

  1. Very interesting.

    The most interesting is that no representative from Thr Guardian was present. They are usually everywhere to be seen on BBC stuff. Almost as if they have some invisible connection to be ‘together’ on all matters concerning Jews and Israel.

    Perhaps the unfortunate financial demise of The Guardian, (Which pays its managing editor in excess of half a million pounds a year), could not afford the paltry sums for one of its representatives to be present at the debate where, if the BBC had not insisted and gagging the subject, it would have been exposed as one of the serious contenders for the position at the head of the list of media publications giving a willing platform to anti Semites.

  2. Very wise, you are right – there is nothing to debate so it was inevitable.

    I am fed up of our community being under constant attack.

  3. They could never have got away with this stuff,if we fought back hard enough.This site is a prime example of this.They have started to take notice of this site because it is pro-active,and are annoyed and rattled by it.

    The BBC has a very high number of palestinians,and palestinian sympathisers
    working for it,these people have managed to hijack the BBC’s agenda,an agenda that happens to be pro-palestinian,pro-hamas,pro-hizbullah.

    And very anti-Israeli.

  4. “I was informed that they did not wish to define me as being connected to CiF Watch as “the public will not know what that is”. So much for the media’s duty to inform; apparently if the public doesn’t know, the BBC isn’t going to tell them!”


  5. Kol hakavod Israelinurse (and all the CiFwatchers too). It may seem pointless to you (and all of us) to continue countering the ingrained anti-Semitism in the British and international media, but hopefully it will work like water dripping on a stone. Eventually it will make a dent…

    In any event, even if we feel we aren’t managing to change attitudes, the antisemitic lies must be countered both in print and online – they cannot be left out there without challenge.

    Is there a link to watch the program online?

  6. I watched this program on youtube. Tony Greenstein is perhaps the least articulate man I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching on TV. Haim Bresheeth did marginally better but both of the shot themselves in the foot by tacitly admitting that they all but support attacks on jews in the name of Israel.

    What I don’t understand about their logic (and they do themselves no favours by going along this line) is that I understand that people are going to be very angry at Israel’s actions. FINE. I understand that many jews openly support Israel, especially when she is vulnerable/at war/etc. FINE. What I don’t understand is the logic that because people are angry with Israeli foreign policy that they will go on to attack jews – where’s the logic?!

  7. Kol Hakavod to you Israeli Nurse and to Alex, Jonathan, Shmuel and the others who I didn’t know. At least three of you gave up half (more) of the weekend to be there.

  8. Just to be clear on Tony Greenstein’s, the BBC’s expert contributor on the show, agenda regarding anti-Zionism- the logo of his organization the “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” says it all.

    See the logo here on the upper left header of the organization’s website –

    It’s a picture of the area that comprises of Israel/Palestine.

    Except there is no Israel there. Just a big Palestine.
    I think such iconography speaks volumes- much more than ambiguous definitions as “anti-Zionism”, which can mean any number of things.

    It says- there is no Israel. It doesn’t exist. It says: All the people who live in it- they can jump into Gaza’s water, as Arafat would put it, for all we care. It says: The “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” is really the “Israel and Israelis should not exist” campaign.

    Erased, vanished, Disappeared.

    This is such a person the BBC invites to its programs as an expert.

  9. What do the actions of Israel have to do with anti-Semitism? They surely don’t excuse any anti-Semitism.
    Now- If the argument is whether they are the cause of it- that argument is irrelevant.

    The very debating of this argument only reinforces the notion that Israel is somehow responsible for it. It only increases, by trickles, the atmosphere and increasing narrative of connecting and blaming Israel to hatred of Jews.

    It is not a lot different from blaming Israel’s actions for the hatred that brought events as 9/11. Both notions are in the same ballpark.

  10. I also watched the programme on YouTube. Very interesting indeed!

    Given the limited time, I think our side won it easily. Those two extreme anti-Zionists were outnumbered for a change and outgunned. To think they support the views of that Muslim spokesman present who tried to explain that antisemitism and anti-Zionism are indistinguishable because of Israel’s coming into existence in 1948 !

  11. Israelinurse, were you the contributor that was sat very near Comrade Greenstein, who made comments about Israel’s minorities? If so, you were FAB! I wanted to give you a big hug – very eloquent 🙂 I especially liked Greenstein’s ridiculously agitated face every time ‘you’ spoke, haha!

  12. Where’s the link to watch the program???? Please!!!— what’s this cruelty to withhold it? Is this some sort of conspiracy? Only Tony Greenstein’s friends get to watch it?

  13. Israelinurse, I saw the programme, you did splendidly even if they wouldn’t let you mention CiFWatch!

    What struck me most was the quiet dignity of all the contributors with the obvious and expected exception of Angry Person Greenstein who I imagine would have a feud with himself if he were stranded all alone on a desert island. (Incidentally, did I actually hear him admit for the cameras that antisemitism is wrong or was I dreaming?? Also screamingly funny, coming from him, was his insistence at one point that he not be interrupted!!!)

    You handled Greenstein very well, I thought. “The look” spoke volumes.

    Was Rabbi Arkush the gentle old man who cut through all the crap and asked why Muslim children felt constrained to taunt him as he walked through a certain area of Birmingham and informed the audience what was being taught to Muslim children about Christians and Jews? I had great admiration for him.

    I thought the Muslim talking head was very lame. Instead of addressing the question of Muslim antisemitism he clanged on, or tried to, about the “Goldsteen” sic report – he couldn’t even remember the beggar’s name properly so I doubt that he had read it in its entirety or even at all.

  14. Greenstein is a disgrace. I wonder if he incites the same responses from everyone he meets?

    You handled him, and yourself, excellently Israelinurse!

  15. I can’t stand it any more: the correct UK spelling is ‘programme’; ‘program’ is for computer software. Israelinurse, the look you gave that aggressive little asajew Greenstein was priceless. You did a great job, as did the wonderful rabbi.

  16. Daniel S, the “Jews deserve it because of Israel’s behaviour” brigade are morally bankrupt themselves, but they insult Joe and Jane Public in the UK by absolving them of all guilt and blame if they should lash out against Jews there “because they were driven to it.”

    Chaim Bresheeth and the Grrrrrreenstein are not fully developed emotionally or morally. Breseeth said that under the EUMC definitions he would be called an antisemite. (What a shame someone didn’t shout out along the lines of “Well, if the cap fits….”).

    FooledmeOnce, Grrrreenstein is an Israel hater and stuck in oedipal rage, ie by getting at Israel he’s unconsciously punishing his father. He’s deeply insecure which is why he is so combative.

  17. Hamibreshet’s logic justifies beating Pakistani Muslims in the UK because Muslims were shooting rockets against Israel during eight years before the Gaza war.
    Thanks Hamibreshet! If I were a racist like you, I would take your advice and show those Muslims their place.

  18. Except the Good Muslims who are running a campaign to destroy Pakistan and reunite it with India.

    What do you say? That there is no such campaign? Well, then all Muslims are bad and deserve justified attacks in the streets.

  19. IsraeliNurse, well done — am I glad that I wasn’t there! I wouldn’t have been able to remain in my seat with Tony Grrrrrreentstein around; and Haim Bereshet isn’t that much better for the blood pressure… Fabian, exactly: if what Israel does justifies antisemitism in the UK, then what any Muslim state/group/individual does in the name of Islam for sure justifies anti-Muslim sentiments!

  20. Sababa – fortunately, I have very low blood pressure!
    I don’t believe for one minute that these people really believe deep down that anything which happens in the Middle East is a reason for setting fire to a synagogue in London, smashing a gravestone in Manchester or spitting at an elderly Rabbi in Birmingham.
    It may well be the excuse they use both to themselves and others, but ‘he made me do it, Miss’ doesn’t wash with me past kindergarten age. In fact there is something particularly perverse and malevolent about making the victim responsible for his own suffering and excusing the perpetrator as though he had no free will of his own.
    After the filming had finished, Mr. Mohammed who was sitting next to me informed me that the problem of anti-Semitism in the UK could be solved if only the Jews would denounce Israel.
    Ironically, all these people are actually acheiving is to highlight and justify the very reasons for which Israel was created.

  21. How funny that they should invite you as an occasional contributor to CW, then turn around and say you cannot mention that because no-one will know what CW is.

    Obviously they did, and why should their program not allow you to explain what CW is to the wider audience, nor mention the Daily Hypocrite and its blog, CIF.So what was thei point of inviting you, since you are known as Israelinurse only through CiF and CW?

    The Daily Hypocrite and the BBC will one day have to account for their role in Britain’s increasing anti-Semitism.

  22. Greenstein is so vile that his comments have been removed from CIF and he has been banned or blocked several times. Even the CiF team find him beyond their level of Israel hatred and anti-Semitic commentary.

    A true Theobald-Jew. The first time I encountered something he wrote I could hardly believe it – a Goebbels incarnate.

  23. Akus – actually, I found Greenstein amusingly unimposing in real life. In a real debate – i.e. not one in which one was only allowed one or two sentences or where he could hide behind a computer screen – it would be something of a walk in the park to take his arguments apart.