As the Jewish Chronicle is reporting in this week's edition, anti-Israel campaigner Ben White -- who is on record as saying that anti-Semitism is understandable -- has scored a significant victory with the BBC. White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide, had lodged a complaint with the state broadcaster's oversight body that BBC reporting of the so called Palestinian "Nakba" last May failed to be sufficiently hostile to Israel.
That's not exactly how White would put it of course, but that is in fact a fair and accurate representation of his complaint. The "Nakba" is the word the Palestinians use to designate the events surrounding the creation of Israel, especially the departure of several hundred thousand refugees. White complained that it was "offensive" that BBC reporting had referred to "thousands of Palestinians leaving their homes".
Using one of the central tropes of anti-Zionism, he referred, in his complaint, to the refugee problem as "ethnic cleansing". The BBC Trust substantially agreed with him saying that the reporting had not sufficiently noted the “degree of force or coercion in the manner of the departure”.
It would be just as true to say that the report in question had failed to point out that the large majority of Palestinian departures were as a result of a calculated and voluntary decision by Palestinians to leave their homes so as to allow the invading Arab armies to advance in the hope of killing off the nascent Jewish state, and most of the Jews with it.
Many others left in the fog of war. Most of the forced expulsions that did take place were in areas of strategic importance where the military had little choice but to remove the local population, which was in any case packed full of real and potential anti-Israel fighters.
An even more historically accurate report would have also pointed out that there would not have been a single refugee if the Palestinian/Arab side had followed the Jewish/Israeli side and accepted the two state solution contained within the UN Partition Plan. Instead, they opted for violence and war. Hence, the refugee problem.
But anyone lodging a complaint with the BBC on those grounds -- the grounds of historical accuracy -- would be laughed out of court. The BBC Trust has now effectively sent a signal to reporters and editors that they have a duty to distort the historical record to suit the pro-Palestinian narrative.
As a codicil....
However depressing the story may be, in a gallows humour sort of way, there is actually a faintly hilarious aspect to all this. Bear in mind that the (fairly) new chairman of the BBC trust is former European Commissioner Chris Patten, a well known Israel basher. So, in this case, essentially, the complaints procedure broke down as follows:
Anti-Zionist fanatic makes complaint to watchdog organisation run by Israel basher that broadcaster already well-known for anti-Israel bias is not being biased enough. Watchdog organisation run by Israel basher upholds complaint made by anti-Zionist fanatic and warns broadcaster well known for anti-Israel bias that it should be careful to be more biased in the future.
You couldn't make it up.