December 1, 2023

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's favourite newspaper

HOLMSEY: What hope is there for peace?

3 min read

They don’t make it easy, but a few weeks ago, I made my first-ever complaint to the BBC.

I’d been listening to Radio 4’s Today programme, something I don’t usually do. The presenter, Amol Rajan was interviewing Angelos Frangopoulos, the CEO of GB News. Nick Ferrari on LBC is my usual morning ritual, but sometimes, to avoid the adverts for a few minutes, I flick over to R4. The night before, actor and campaigner Laurence Fox, had made some offensive remarks on GB News about Ava Evans, a hard-line feminist commentator. She’s dismissive of the government’s plan to have a Minister for men, a proposal aimed at reducing the distressing number of male suicides. Laurence Fox was clearly upset by her objection and responded with some tasteless misogyny. The man in charge of GB News, a station I’ve never watched, was appearing on R4 to apologise for what Laurence had said. It was soon apparent Amol Rajan loathes GB News, whose output seems the polar opposite of the BBC’s leftist offering. From the start, I thought Amol hectored his interviewee, adopting an aggressive tone, his contempt for GB News unconcealed. To make matters worse, towards the end of the interview, co-presenter, Nick Robinson decided he’d put the boot in too. It was most unusual; I don’t remember hearing anything quite like it before, although BBC R4 presenters do love to interrupt politicians.

The events since October 7 were as distressing as any I recall, the horror inflicted by Hamas almost made me weep. How could anyone barbarically murder babies and children, the elderly, or young people enjoying a music event? Around the world, decent people condemned the horror, calling it what it was, a terrorist outrage. In the days following, I wanted to hear what people here had to say about it. Surely no sane person would do such wicked things. Israel’s troubled relationship with Palestine was determined by Britain’s Balfour declaration. In the following decades, negotiating a peace settlement between them has proved impossible. I’m no expert, and I certainly wouldn’t want to host radio programmes on the subject, but as I’ve listened in and watched, hoping to improve my understanding. I’ve really struggled with what I heard.

The BBC’s policy of uncritical equivalence continues, even while on Monday night, they described the Isis-inspired Brussels murders as a “terror attack”, despite refusing to name Hamas as terrorists! I’m not sure where to start with a second BBC complaint.

A considerable number of people – condemning the repugnant Isis-style atrocity, like to add a ‘but.’ The ‘but’ is that blame for the atrocity rests with Israel, not Hamas. Preventing the supply of water, fuel, and medical supplies into Gaza until their hostages were freed was their immediate retaliation. In the UK, Israel is berated for its reaction by some, antisemitism is rife. But just think – what would we do if it was our children, grandparents and loved ones taken under such circumstances? But pro-Palestine demonstrations against Israel in London and elsewhere began taking place even before the victims’ bodies were recovered.

I changed this column late yesterday afternoon when a friend brought a Facebook post from a nursery in London to my attention.

They have uttered not a word of sympathy for the attack on Israel, or the Israelis who were slaughtered, but yesterday offered unequivocal support for Palestine. What sort of a world do we live in when a nursery for two to five-year-olds is supporting Palestinians? What hope is there for a future where people can live alongside each other with tolerance and in peace?

I want to weep, but instead, I’ll pray for everyone involved, particularly those hostages, their families and all the children caught up in the utter madness, regardless of where they call home.

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