I haven’t written about the boycott of Israel voted by the British National Union of Journalists, because it seemed to me that everyone was doing it, including the woman I believe to be the best blogger in the UK, and possibly the world, Melanie Phillips, who wrote:
The Palestinian journalists’ union, of course, demonstrated against the Palestinian Authority because Johnston was kidnapped by Palestinians. The NUJ apparently cannot grasp quite how demented it is, therefore, to boycott Israel because of the kidnap of Alan Johnston. If something nasty happens in the Middle East, they think Israel is the only party to be blamed. If Palestinians kill Jews, blame Israel. If Palestinians kill Palestinians, blame Israel. If Palestinians kidnap a British NUJ member, blame Israel. And if Palestinian journalists protest to Palestinians about the kidnap by Palestinians of a British journalist, those Palestinian journalists are to be ‘rewarded’ by — a boycott of Israel.
But there’s more to the story than just another few idiots and a boycott.
As Chas Newkey Burden writes,
…the British media has long been absorbed by a blind hatred of Israel. Newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian print editorials that are so biased and distorted that Osama Bin Laden would probably blush at them. The BBC refuses to describe suicide bombers who blow up buses full of schoolchildren as “terrorists” and one of its correspondents told a Hamas rally that he and his colleagues were “waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinian people”.
This is not a new thing. In 1290, the Jews were expelled from England by Edward I, not to be allowed to return until the time of Cromwell (c. 1656). Although there was some pro-Zionist sympathy among certain British Protestants in the 19th century (and this sentiment in part led to the Balfour Declaration), many British politicians did not favor a Jewish State, and during the Mandate period some were quite pro-Arab. As the British policy limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine became more severe while Jews were being murdered in Europe, serious conflict developed between British authorities in Palestine and the Jews, with numerous casualties and resultant ill will on both sides.
Take this, shall we say, ambivalent attitude to Jews and Zionism, combine it with the traditional British Arabism exemplified by T. E. Lawrence, add a few cups of oil politics, a dash of Muslim immigration to the UK, and a big dollop of post-1967 left-wing/academic anti-Zionism: the result is a recipe for a seriously unfriendly press.