How BDS bigots, deceivers and smear merchants corner the market in hate

IF you believe in fairies, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigners – who I’ll call BDS-ards for space reasons – are kindly folk, if a tad economical with truth, who only seek a better world…better still without that pesky state of Israel.

What a travesty it is, they claim, that uppity Jews – six million of them – boss the Middle East, an oasis of fellowship, where 400,000,000 amiable Arabs merely want to go about their daily business of annihilating each other.

And what are these ‘land-grabbers’ doing there at all, demand the BDS-ards. Huh! It’s as if the Jews think they’ve some 3,500-year-old right to Israel, not poor Arabs, who’ve identified themselves as Palestinians for…er, well maybe a century, give or take a decade.

So forget historical fact, including the glaring one that no country called Palestine ever existed.

And perish the thought BDS-ards think there’s anything amiss with China brutalising Tibet, Turkey – with more journalists jailed than anywhere else – persecuting Kurds and ‘annexing’ Northern Cyprus, Russia turning Chechnya into an abattoir or Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea believing human rights are just for the wimpy West.

Similarly, the gang of mass murderers blighting much of Africa are of no consequence.

Because in the warped, BDS mindset all the world’s ills lie at the doorstep of Israel, uniquely the world’s only Jewish – if secular – state and rated by internationally respected Freedom House as the Middle East’s only free one.

The point is, despite swapping land for peace with Egypt and Jordan, the confounded Israelis just won’t cave in to all Palestinian demands – PLO warlord-cum-compulsive kleptomaniac, Yasser Arafat, was even offered 96% of what he sought for a nation-state, yet still flatly rejected it.

Israel also has the audacity to insist on the same rights as 57 countries that are Islamic and be recognised as Jewish.

HEROIC GIG: Sir Paul McCartney defied death threats to perform in Tel Aviv

HEROIC GIG: Sir Paul McCartney defied death threats to perform in Tel Aviv

That’s a definite no-no, rail the BDS-ards, who contend – for all its Western democracy, respect for gays, equal rights for women and people of other faiths, especially its 1.3-million Muslims – Israel is an ‘apartheid regime’, ruthlessly occupying the West Bank, coincidentally the cradle of terrorism.

Israel even built a protective wall rounds itself, dramatically curbing terror attacks by 80%, and has the nerve to retaliate against suicide bombers and fusillades of rockets fired by Gaza’s cuddly do-gooders, Hamas.

So, indulging in a repugnant equivalence to the Holocaust, not a few BDS-ards compare Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence with ‘Nazism’, disingenuously obscuring the issue their own tactics smack of totalitarian thuggery.

Founded in 2005, BDS was inspired by Qatari-born bigot Omar Barghouti – bizarrely a student at Tel Aviv University – to delegitimise and destroy Israel via an international trade and cultural boycott.

BDS-ards say their model is the one that helped topple white, supremacist South Africa, though Nelson Mandela, who knew a thing or two about real apartheid, distanced himself from their ravings.

Meanwhile, BDS stoops to sophistry in a claim that it merely seeks to end Israeli ‘occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands’ and a ‘right of return’ for Palestinians.

What they’re coy about admitting is this includes today’s four million descendants of the 700,000 Arabs displaced in the 1948 Israel War of Independence, when five, invading Arab armies failed to crush the re-born, UN-sanctioned  Jewish state.

Note the ‘all’, because the ploy is to dump on Israel a multitude of Arabs, weaned on a diet of vicious anti-Semitism, that BDS-ards hope will deliver a new Muslim state, entirely Jew-free – ‘Judenrein’, as Hitler termed it – even if a bloodbath is guaranteed.

In its pursuit of this ghoulish vision, BDS never lets truth spoil its PR war, especially with a pliant Western media – lead by those bastions of journalistic objectivity, The Guardian, New York Times and BBC – to give lies legs

Naturally, there’s a fetid stench of far-Left odium about BDS-ards, who subscribe to free speech, only if it chimes with their preposterous ‘group think’.

OXFAM DUMPED: Actress Scarlett Johansson quit the charity in a storm over her role as the 'face' of SodaStream

OXFAM DUMPED: Actress Scarlett Johansson quit the charity in a storm over her role as the ‘face’ of SodaStream

Its key battlegrounds are academia, big biz and showbiz, where it has achieved some traction, though not without embarrassments, the latest being a kick in the bias of Oxfam by its former goodwill ambassador, actress Scarlett Johansson.

When the charity upbraided her for promoting SodaStream, a fizzy drinks gizmo made in a factory just over the contentious, pre-1967 Six Day War ‘Green Line’,  the Hollywood A-lister summarily dumped it, saying she supported ‘economic co-operation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine’ (which, by implication, Oxfam doesn’t).

Worse, Oxfam was told to shove off by SodaStream’s 700 Palestinian workers, who enjoy identical rights to Israeli staff and are paid four times the West Bank average.

Still BDS remains the toast of certain showbiz luminaries, like the preciously PC Emma Thompson, who ganged up with like-minded luvvies to pen an anguished letter to The Guardian – where else! – demanding an Israel theatrical troupe be banned from appearing at London’s Globe Theatre.

Another is ex-Pink Floyd strummer, Roger Waters, whose hysterical animus towards Israel is claimed by critics to hide motives far more insidious as he tries to harass pop stars into nixing appearances in the Jewish state.

Despite such coercion, icons such as Sir Elton John, Rihanna, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys continue to play Israel; Sir Paul McCartney did so, too, bravely defying death threats, reportedly from BDS-ards; and The Rolling Stones are due in Tel Avis this June.

On the financial front, several European banks have been pressed into severing links with Israel for ‘ethical reasons’, notably Denmark’s Danske Bank (otherwise known as the bank that liked to say ‘Yes’ to backing North Korean sales of ballistic missiles to Iran, according to a US State Department report revealed by Wikileaks).

In academia, the tiny, Left-leaning American Studies Association recently added its voice to BDS, only to find itself boycotted by over a hundred, top US universities.

But BDS-ards claimed a major scalp when they persuaded Professor Sir Stephen Hawking, lauded as Britain’s most brilliant physicist, to renege on an invitation to visit Israel…despite the hi-tech wonders powering his awesome, life-enhancing wheelchair being Israeli innovations

The stark truth is BDS is shot full of such hypocrisy and bigotry and – let’s face it – not a few who hide their repellent anti-Semitism under the pretence of Palestinian solidarity.

The authoritative Economist magazine branded the movement ‘flimsy’ and ineffective, pointing out that ‘blaming Israel alone for the impasse…will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair.’

And not even the Palestinian leadership supports the boycott.

Sane folk would also imagine art, wealth-creation and ground-breaking technology should transcended all boundaries, their bounties shared by people everywhere. But, where only Israel is concerned, that’s heresy in the skewered opinion of BDS-ards.

And the people they target – from showbiz stars to businesses and academics – are no more responsible for the Israel-Palestinian imbroglio than they are for the slump in Mongolian yurt sales.

So let there be no mistaking the real message of BDS: Make hate, kill hope.

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Playing politics with ‘The Street of Shame’ is no way to gag the UK Press

IN ten days’ time the Privy Council will ask – nay, require! – The Queen to sign a Royal Charter, which, depending on who you believe, will set out new ‘guidelines’ for Press regulation or put politicians in control of what British newspapers can print.

Sure, you can cavil that the above statement is the sort of typical, dramatic spin you’d expect from a journalist. But those are the cold facts and the harsh reality is 300 years of Press freedom is about to be tossed into the wastebin of history, like an empty fag packet.

For all their smooth talk about papers retaining their entitlement to print what they want, the politicos – and that includes most MPs, regardless of party affiliation – are still seething about being outed over their grubby, expenses rip-off by the Daily Telegraph’s revelations in 2009.

So, take it as read that one, highly contentious clause in the proposed changes isn’t there without devious reason…that Parliament can only interfere with the Press if it can muster a two-thirds majority in favour (note: this requirement could be changed by a simple majority of MPs).

My best guess is it will meddle, because it’s in the vested interests of the UK’s elected representatives’ to do so.

In fact, the siren has been sounded and the first boot went in last week when Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, dismissed the Press’s own recommendations to beef up self-regulation, stating they ‘did not comply with government policy.’

PRESS UNDER DURESS: New rules will leave the politicians with powers to curb newspapers

PRESS UNDER DURESS: New rules will leave the politicians with powers to curb newspapers

Government policy? What fork-tongued dross! Royal Charters are not laws, but rights or grants at the ‘gift’ or the monarch.

Besides, implementing recommendations suggested by Lord Justice Leveson in his report of last November was supposed to be consensual – i.e. that editors and politicians agreed on a formula to curb what some dubbed as ‘Press excess’ – but no such eventuality occurred.

What did happen, though, was a rump of MPs met in furtive conclave, junked the editors’ ideas and steamrollered through their original agenda.

No member of the Press was invited to present its case – just as no journalist was around when representatives of the three, main parties met in Ed Miliband’s office, over take-away pizzas, just post-Leveson, to hammer out terms of the newspapers’ surrender. Oddly, luvvies from the media witch-hunt brigade, Hacked Off, were given an ear (and, no doubt, a slice of Domino’s finest Mozzarella and mushroom).

Understandably, editors were a tad chagrined by this secretive stitch-up…‘Pizza’d off,’ you might say.

In a statement, they said, ‘This remains a charter written by politicians, imposed by politicians and controlled by politicians.

‘It is impossible to see how a regulator operating under rules imposed by politicians, and enforced by draconian and discriminatory provisions for damages and costs in civil cases, could be said to be either voluntary or independent.’

Leveson himself is more than irked by the shenanigans over the first part of his report – Part Two is due after the multiple police investigations are over and any ensuing criminal proceedings concluded – because what MPs are doing is exactly what he didn’t recommend.

The Law Lord recently insisted to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, ‘The concept of the Royal Charter was not mine. I did not think of it. What’s more, nobody suggested it.’

What he did recommend, however, was – as the editors said – ‘voluntary, independent, self-regulation’, perhaps with Ofcom, which regulates television, having its brief extended to act as an arbiter of last resort to cover newspapers.

Instead, Leveson’s Report was hijacked by a cartel of politicos and a circus of celebrity whingers, banging a morality drum, who, for convergent reasons, want British journalism’s self-styled Street of Shame leashed.

As I pointed out here last December, Prime Minister David Cameron made a monumental gaffe in appointing Leveson to look into the ‘culture and practices’ of the Press, following allegations (which they continue to be, until somebody is found guilty) of, principally, phone-hacking and bribing police.

Cameron was embarrassingly denuded, left with something other than his parliamentary order paper dangling in his hand, when his ex-spinmeister and former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, along with his country pursuits chum, Rebekah Brooks – then boss of Rupert Murdoch’s News International – were implicated in the scandal.

So, in a naïve, knee-jerk bid to distance himself from the brouhaha, the PM enlisted the judge, of whom I have no criticism, to perform an impossible task, which he did with praiseworthy objectivity.

Yet again, as I have previously noted, criminal law already proscribes tapping into the telecommunications of others, greasing the palms of pliant plods and invasions of privacy.

JUDGEMENT DISPUTE: Lord Justice Leveson says he never recommended a Royal Charter imposed on the Press

JUDGEMENT DISPUTE: Lord Justice Leveson says he never recommended a Royal Charter imposed on the Press

So what was Leveson for? And, what’s more, where will it lead, except – at this rate – to politicians wielding undue influence over the Press?

All but two national newspapers indicate their refusal to sign up to the Royal Charter, the dissenters being the hypocritical, holier-than-thou Guardian – which says it is mulling over the rebellion – and the nearly non-existent Independent.

As an aside, it’s a bit rich for The Guardian to even consider toeing the government line, just as it overflows with exposés about Secret Service surveillance operations, which MI5 head, Andrew Parker, lambasted as ‘putting Britain’s security at risk’.

One can only but wonder how long the hymn sheet of the hard Left glee club will be able to carry on leaking classified info under the proposed, new regime.

Certainly, though, the Royal Charter will douse the flame of investigative journalism, for which the British Press, warts and all, has a matchless reputation.

Yes, it’s often rumbustious, irreverent and occasionally foolhardy. And, yes, it should clean up its act, especially where media innocents – like the family of murdered schoolgirl, Millie Dowler – are concerned.

But UK newspapers are still the envy of the world, particularly in countries where Press freedom is a far-flung pipedream.

So, if anyone wants government-speak posing as journalism, can I suggest they subscribe to The Chinese People’s Daily or Pravda.

Monster pay-offs, mismanagement and lies…is this the BBC laid bare?

Bet you thought BBC – known to Brits sentimentally as ‘Auntie’ – was an acronym for British Broadcasting Corporation. Well might it have been until last Monday, when it transmogrified into Backstabbing, Bitching and Cantankerousness in a frenzy, all performed in the best, possible taste, of course.

Before the probing House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), old Auntie’s knickers became so twisted, the principal antagonists appeared to be verbally trying to throttle each other with the elastic – a blustering Lord Patten, chair of the BBC Trust, in one corner, festering in the other, ex-Director General, Mark Thompson, now boss of The New York Times.

Played out live on BBC Parliament, it made unedifying viewing – an acrimonious, real-life, corporate bare-knuckle fight laid bare. And, though a chill aplomb was somehow retained, the sparring was far nastier than any ruckus that’s kicked off down EastEnder’s Queen Vic, BBC viewers’ favourite soap pub.

The nub of the issue was: who knew what about a £1M-plus golden goodbye to one-time Deputy DG, Mark Byford, which, based on the current Euro=£ exchange rate, is probably enough to buy Greece.

Thompson accused Patten of misleading Parliament over the pay-off, but the last governor of Hong Kong – remembered by the Chinese as ‘Fatty Pang’ – denied the charge, insisting it was before his time as chatelaine of Auntie’s mansion.

LORD ONLY KNOWS: Patten denied knowledge of the £1M pay-off to Byford

LORD ONLY KNOWS: Patten denied knowledge of the £1M pay-off to Byford

The problem for both combatants, however, was that this left yet another fetid odour overlaying the stench of iffy severance largesse doled out to Corporation managers, like £700,000 – plus £55,000 she wasn’t entitled to – to Jana Bennett, director of TV and ‘Vision’, who once ordered a £100 bouquet for Jonathan Ross, as he mulled a humongous, £18M, chat-show contract Byford practically begged him to autograph.

All is endemic of a culture of outrageous palm-greasing that’s infected the Beeb, as it seeks to shed an overload of managers, many with no links to programming.

But the Patten-Thompson spat descended into such a pea-soup fog of colliding egos, alleged memory lapses and conflicting versions of the truth, the committee’s robust chairman, Margaret Hodge, intervened and said emphatically, ‘I’m not having any more lies this afternoon.’

Just for good measure, she added, ‘At the best I think what we have seen is incompetence, a lack of central control, a failure to communicate. At its worse we may have seen people covering their backs by being less than open.’

Ouch! This wasn’t a schoolma’am admonishing a couple of errant fifth formers for telling porkies about who broke a window in the gym. It was two of the most august presences in the history of British broadcasting sitting before her, each adamantly insisting on the righteousness of their take on how the UK’s chief purveyor of entertainment runs its business (or, conversely, frittered away a sizeable chunk of its annual £3.7bn in public funds, a.k.a. the Licence Fee).

As Lord Michael Grade, himself a former Chairman, said on BBC2 Newnight later that evening, ‘The BBC doesn’t understand the value of money’.

ACCUSER: Ex-Director General Mark Thompson accused Patten of misleading Parliament

ACCUSER: Ex-Director General Mark Thompson accused Patten of misleading Parliament

Sometimes I’m unfairly accused of being anti-Auntie, but I’m not. It is still the platinum standard broadcasters, worldwide, aspire to and its output – on TV, radio or online – is extraordinary.

In fact, its flair for serving up riveting drama, documentary and cultural shows was never better illustrated than by last week’s delights… Simon Schama’s The History of the Jews, gritty, tear-jerky Midwives and the Last Night of the Proms, all veritable televisual feasts.

No, my gripes with the behemoth Beeb are: it’s too rich and powerful for the public good; its current affairs coverage is skewered by an overweening Left-liberal bias (try getting a newsroom job if you haven’t worked for The Guardian); and its venal officer class inhabits a parallel universe no responsible company’s shareholders would tolerate if they uncovered such gross incompetence and nefarious abuse of funds.

Meanwhile, the BBC Trust, specifically under His Haughtiness, Patten, cannot simultaneously be Auntie’s cheerleader and regulator, because that’s a contradiction of roles.

It is clearly unfit for purpose and should be ditched, with the BBC placed under the protection of Ofcom, which regulates Britain’s other, state-run broadcaster, Channel 4.

The excrement hit the fan when the Jimmy Savile paedophile scandal exposed other dark, recesses within an organisation purporting to be the nation’s moral arbiter, but where mutual feather-bedding became the norm

For an insight into this we are beholden to Lucy Adams, the BBC’s outgoing head of HR, whose defence of grotesque pay-offs was: it’s ‘custom and practice.’

ENOUGH'S ENOUGH: 'No more lies', demanded Committe chairmn, Margaret Hodge MP

ENOUGH’S ENOUGH: ‘No more lies’, demanded Committe chairman, Margaret Hodge MP

Apart from in the murky domain of banking piracy, it is patently not and certainly isn’t replicated in other public service sectors, because never forget that’s exactly what Auntie is.

Ms Adams’ crass ignorance of the real world is, I suppose, understandable from someone paid £420K p.a. – more than twice the salary of another public servant, the Prime Minister – to run the Beeb’s personnel department, where Dinah Rose QC found evidence of bullying and ‘a strong undercurrent of fear’.

Therefore, it was unsurprising, too, that Ms Adams appeared to have suffered a ‘memory lapse’, because she told MPs a memo she claimed at an earlier PAC hearing never to have seen might have actually be drafted by her.

Ouch (again)!

But, after the tsunami of revelations about Beeb management’s magnanimity to each other, how much more evidence is required before it’s decided enough is enough?

As the London Daily Telegraph noted, ‘On perks, salaries and bonuses, too, the BBC hierarchy appeared to operate according to its own rules, with members of the privileged club rewarding each other with incomes commensurate with their egos rather than their talents.’

So where does that leave Patten, already savaged over his handling of the Savile case, the Digital Media Initiative fiasco – in which the Corporation wrote off £100M – and bizarre choice of pondering George Entwistle as DG, who vacated his office after just 54 days with £475,000 in his back pocket?

Anywhere else, such cackhandedness would require Patten’s head on a platter.

But Auntie’s no ordinary organisation. Unlike Caesar’s wife, it always considered itself above suspicion…until now.

Why some definitions of ‘free speech’ offer a free pass to the terror mongers

In affluent, uber-liberal Sweden they are still dousing the flames of hatred, while the country’s bleeding-heart elite asks itself, ‘Why us? All we did was to open our door to the repressed of other lands.’

Or, in the submission of one leading politician, ‘We’ve tried harder than any other European country to integrate, spending billions on a welfare system that is designed to help jobless immigrants and guarantee them a good quality of life.

‘Yet we have areas where there are ethnic groups that just don’t identify with Swedish society. They see the police, even the fire brigade, as part of the state and they attack them. We have tried everything, anything, to improve things, but it hasn’t worked. It’s not about racism, it’s just that the policy of multiculturalism in Europe has failed.’

Ah, there’s the goodie-goodies’ pet buzzword, ‘multiculturalism’, It might offer a clue to why Europe’s most egalitarian state was burning. Though if you’d read early reports of the rioting and arson in The Guardian or BBC News website you’d be none the wiser.

The bibles of radical thought merely informed their readers that ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘immigrants’ took to the torch, believing themselves to be second-class citizens in a nation that’s the epitome of everything wholesomely Nordic.

Both organs of the pompous bien pensant somehow overlooked who the great disenchanted are: Somalis, Eritreans, Afghans and Iraqis. A mere oversight, perhaps? Or, disingenuously, a lame attempt to disguise the fact that, in common with most of Western Europe, Sweden has a problem with some of its Muslim population (15% and growing), where Islamists agitators are increasingly stirring violent dissent?

FLAMING RAGE: Cars burn as rioters take to the torch in Sweden

FLAMING RAGE: Cars burn as rioters take to the torch in Sweden

Well, hand-wringing Swedes, wake up and smell the couscous.

Recently here, I posed the question: Is it time Muslim communities did more to combat the fanatics in their midst?

This was an attempt to derail the pernicious hatred of a minority of evil deviants by enlisting the huge, silent majority of peaceful Muslims to seize the agenda.

Because, whatever you think of multiculturalism, headbanger Islamists don’t rate it one iota – certainly not in Britain, France, Spain, Holland and now nice, nice Sweden, where flat-pack furniture makes an ever-so-lovely bonfire of liberal vanities.

What’s more, the deplorable fanners of religious flames are using our institutions and laws to make twits of us. And, we can thank the obsessive political correctness of some in positions of influence for further exposing us to the threat of extremism.

They’ll even stake their snooty reputations on the high altar of ‘free speech’ to protect the rights of crazies who want to drag the world back to the 7th Century.

For instance, listen to Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK – the vice-chancellors’ union – who was asked why Islamic societies are allowed to hold gender-segregated events on campus, where impressionable youngsters are systematically indoctrinated in anti-Western, anti-Semitic and anti-gay loathing by invited hate-preachers.

‘Clamping down on speakers is not the way forward,’ Nicola said glibly, on a recent visit to Planet Earth.

For good measure, she added that Islamic societies should be left to police themselves.

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH: Baroness Warsi agrees there is no more Islamic hate-speech on UK campuses than 'anywhere else

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH: Baroness Warsi agrees there is no more hate-speech on UK university campuses than anywhere else

Baroness Warsi, Britain’s Minister for Faith, also subscribes to this codswallop, insisting extremism is ‘no more prevalent’ at varsities than elsewhere. That contradicts the anti-extremism group, Student Rights, who found at least 10 instances of Islamic hate-peddlers being openly promoted on UK campuses in April alone.

So what’s Nicola’s interpretation of ‘free speech’? Extending free passes to disciples of Abu Qatada, Omar Bakri Mohammed, hook-clawed Abu Hamza and Anjem Choudary to spout invective that defiles our democratic principles (at least Bakri was ejected from Britain, Hamza deported to the USA and hopefully Qatada will soon be packed off to Jordan)?

And how do we deal with mosques hijacked by ‘militants’ – that’s BBC-speak for terror-mongers, since the ‘T’ word is banned by Left-leaning Auntie (though, odious Choudary, an apologist for murder and once leader of now outlawed Al-Muhajiroun, is a welcome guest on Newsnight)?

Or are we supposed to tolerate friendly, neighbour bookshops, flogging DIY bomb-making manuals and the 10 best ways to behead an infidel?

Even UK jails have become breeding grounds for rabid Islamists, as illustrate by last week’s brutal attack on a warder in Full Sutton Prison, East Yorkshire.

So what I – and, no doubt, now many Swedes – want to know from Nicola and her ilk is: Define your version of ‘free speech’? Because I know what mine is…and among other proscriptions, I cannot spew racism or incite others to acts of religious aggression.

To me, freedom of speech is a privilege, not a right to abuse. And those who defend it irresponsibly are dunderheads in dire need of gagging. Far from being the protectors of a democratic virtue, they are playing into the hands of its destroyers.

That’s why the West must sing from the same hymn sheet in dealing with extremism, particularly of the Islamo-fascist persuasion, and learn best practices from each other.

As I’ve written before, France brooks no dissent when it comes to extraditing fomenters of terror. Adieu – or words to that effect – they say, without going through the inanity of consulting the European Court of Sub-Human Rights, while the Americans simply revoke citizenship and escort malcontents to the nearest international airport.

After the 7/7 London bombings, Britain’s answer was Prevent, an ostensibly tough regime intended to crack down on fanatics. However, so liberally absurd was it implemented, the government and local authorities actually funded the very lunatics Prevent was supposed to prevent…to ‘engage’ with them.

In one instance, £113,411 was given to a foundation linked to Hizb ut-Tahrir to establish Islamic schools, where an ‘Islamic personality’ would be implanted into pupils. It’s worth noting – as ministers were well aware – Hizb sought the destruction of the British state, vilified assimilation and wanted Sharia law imposed on the nation.

Currently, as the UK is locked in soul-searching following the dastardly murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, controversy surrounds a new Communications Bill that would give security services more powers to scrutinise emails, phone calls and text messages.

The Lib-Dems label this a ‘snooper’s charter’ and are dead against it (hence, it must be a good idea).

Meantime, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, says current UK laws exist to ensure hate-preachers don’t incite violence or disorder.

Perhaps he should pass that information onto the pussy-footing police and judiciary, so we can all have our free speech protected…especially from repellent Islamists.

 

Verdict on Leveson: don’t blame the Press for Cameron’s pantomime of blunders

In certain countries – including not a few in the so-called free world – I couldn’t write what you are about to read. Laws would proscribe such anti-Establishment heresy, though not in Britain…not until now, that is, where the Leveson Report threatens to challenge that.

In his defence, the judge walked a tightrope over his inquiry into the ‘culture, practices and ethics’ of the Press. Because whatever were to be his findings, m’lud was inevitably stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.

His first option was to modify the status quo – beefing up the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), with greater representation from the laity or even a judge like himself.

Inevitably, this would have laid Leveson open to accusation by certain vested interests that he buckled to the print barons and we hacks would be toasting his health in the Last Chance Saloon

His second was to recommend a new, independent body to police newspapers and, after long deliberation, Leveson plumped for it. However, if implemented it will signal a monumental blunder in the wake of the earlier one, which established his inquiry.

I’ve no criticism of the judge, who did a commendable job with an impossible brief and his observations are fair, balanced and objective.

JUDGING THE JUDGE: Leveson had an impossible brief

JUDGING THE JUDGE: Leveson’s observations were fair, balanced and objective

Yet, his recommendations patently fail to square a circle he desperately sought to avoid: state licensing of the Press, totally contradicting his insistence, ‘This is not and cannot be characterised as statutory regulation’.

It can and will. Moreover, any short-term gain risks being outweighed by long-term dangers of future regimes moving the goalposts. So, small wonder David Cameron is squirming.

The inquiry might have made for compulsive telly viewing, much of it a pantomime of hot air from celebrity whingers grinding axes. But it was a monumental political gaffe to have unleashed Leveson in the first place.

The PM hung it on legitimate concern of ‘havoc’ – the judge’s own word – wreaked on innocent families, like that of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, by rabid newshounds, blatantly oblivious to their own rules of engagement.

A likelier reason, though, was Cameron trying to amend for – as his critics claim – naivety in supping with the media devil, only neglecting to take a long spoon. As Icarus flew lethally too close to the sun, he made the cardinal error of getting too cosy with The Sun newspaper (and News of the World) luminaries, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

Nonetheless, appointing Leveson was a silly, political knee-jerk, and one that threatens to nail Cameron for posterity as the PM who chanced 300 years of Press freedom on the toss of a judicial inquiry. In doing so, he ignored wiser heads, like Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, who noted, ‘the liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties’

What pains me as, I believe, a conscionable journalist is I’ve been hung out to dry with a bag of rotten apples that lurks within every profession, business and industry.

CLOSE UP: Is Cameron paying the price of his friendship with Rebekah Brooks?

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT?  Cameron is paying the price of his links with Murdoch luminary Rebekah Brooks

Because the overwhelmingly vast majority of us scribes don’t eavesdrop on other people’s voice-mail, hatch plots with dodgy MPs and bung coppers moolah. We see our role as uncovering and reporting the truth, but as fallible humans we don’t always get it right.

In the main I think we do, because of the 50,000-plus stories that appeared in UK publications last year, the PCC received 7,341 complaints, 719 of which were deemed to have breached the voluntary Editors’ Code of Ethics (yes, we actually have one!).

That reinforces my opinion Leveson was a crass over-reaction. Because Britain already has rigorous laws against bribery, phone-hacking and corruption, not to say protection of human rights, without having a judge reaffirm them, as Ms Brooks and Mr. Coulson will testify.

The country also has some of the world’s sternest libel laws. And, as a one-time senior, UK national newspaper executive, I have long experience of such counterweights to media excess.

Nonetheless, in a career spanning over 40 years, very occasionally and for sound reasons, I’ve supported decisions that were legally risky.

Hand on heart, I did so not simply to land a scoop, but to reveal injustices, connivances, scams and hypocracies the public deserved to know the truth of, because there are some powerful, arrogant people who abuse their positions of trust and deserve to be outed.

Sometimes, only a probing, fearless media can do that.

Which is why a lynch mob of certain aggrieved MPs salivated for Leveson to bring in a guilty verdict over the Press. The reason? Look no further than the Daily Telegraph’s exposé of their grubby expenses rip-off – based on illegally-leaked information – and the ‘entrapment’ by the Sunday Times of certain lords a-leaping for cash in return for breaching lobbying rules.

Even the dead, disgraced News of the World, sunk in the phone-hacking morass, wasn’t all boobs and celeb trash. It conducted some genuinely admirable investigations, one of the last being to bowl out a clutch of Pakistani cricketers involved in match-betting fixes.

Meanwhile, in hindsight, would you feel David Mellor – the ostensibly squeaky-clean family man-cum-political populist – still merited power, having been outed by The People over his extra-marital tryst with Antonia de Sancha?

And how would you have liked unctious Jonathan Aitken as PM – once a distinct possibility – before he was impaled on his own ‘sword of truth’ and jailed for perjury and perverting justice, after being exposed for his iffy links to Arab businessmen and lying through his teeth in a libel action against Granada TV’s World In Action?

OLD NEWS: But even the defunct News of the World produced some

OLD NEWS: But even the defunct News of the World produced some admirable investigations

So would you be better off without a free, self-regulated Press, warts and all, or one at the mercy off government?  Alternatively, will you prefer your ‘news’ delivered by an anarchic, unpoliced Internet, where crackpots abound and Twitter twits compound libels, like misnaming Lord McAlpine a paedophile?

As several MPs sagely noted last week, state regulation of the Press is ‘absolutely pointless’ when people are able to use the Web to spread ‘lies and slurs’.

And consider: was the Leveson Inquiry solely about the ‘culture, practices and ethics’ of the Press or were other dimensions in play, a back-story so to speak?

Because, in our dog-eats-dog menagerie, some media gloried in the bloodbath of the tabloids. Unsurprisingly, most enthusiastic were standard-bearers of the illiberal Left, the pious Guardian and the haughty BBC, despite the serial cock-ups of the Jimmy Savile affair exposing its inherent hypocricy and journalistic ineptitude.

Both harbour agendas, The Guardian because anyone who disagrees with its prejudices must surely be wrongheaded and the Beeb because it feared a Murdoch takeover of Sky TV would shove it further down the road of decline.

So, too, does a cabal of righteous, self-appointed lobby groups, like the Media Standards Trust, which spawned the Hugh Grant-led ‘Hacked Off’ campaign.

Hence, despite the best intentions of Lord Leveson, his inquiry was essentially a trial of the Murdoch media, set against a Left-versus-Right political backdrop.

Its recommendations are still to be fully weighed, dissected and debated. But the final verdict rests with politicians, who equally shared the dock with the Press.

Which prompts me to ask: since when did the guilty decide the fate of co-defendants?

A siren voice in the Middle East madness signals a glimmer of hope and sanity

Incredible as it may seem at this critical juncture, could I have detected a tiny glimmer of hope amid the chaos and lunacy of the carnage-strewn Middle East?

Not that Shiite and Sunni, Palestinian and Israeli, Arab and Jew are all suddenly going to embrace each other warmly, cooing ‘Salaam’ and ‘Shalom’. On the contrary: tragically, there’s no denying much more blood will be spilt before the pipe dream of peace comes true, if ever fully.

No, the script will continue apace, after disparate anti-Assad fighters forged an iffy alliance in Doha early this month, the fragmented opposition agreeing to combine under the Soviet-sounding nom de guerre of The National Coalition Forces of the Syrian Revolution. With Al Qaeda extremist and raving Salafists in its ranks, skeptics aren’t betting it’ll enjoy a long life.

In the meantime – having already overflowed into Turkey and Jordan, where thousands of Syrian refugees have fled their odious regime’s killing machine – the conflict is engulfing Lebanon, where Iranian-backed proxies of the terrorist franchise, Hizbollah, hold the country by its throat.

Israel has done its best to stay above the fray, despite Syrian army tank rounds, mortar shells and stray bullets landing in its territory. But now they, too, have been shanghaied into taking defensive action on their southern flank.

With nearly 800 rocket attacks targeted at its civilians so far this year up to the beginning of November from Hamas’s terror enclave in Gaza – missiles smuggled in from Libya, Iran and Sudan and seriously lethal ordnance – it’s small wonder Israel felt compelled to take out the terror-monger-in-chief, Ahmed Jaabari, on Wednesday.

READY TO FIRE: Hamas terrorists prepare another rocket fussilade to further provoke Israel

But what did Hamas expect by deliberately provoking an Israeli defensive retaliation with a rocket blitz?

As usual, they escalated the violence for PR gain, but the real reason is they want to test the new-found power of their sponsors and armourers, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, who swept to control after Egypt’s overthrow of the Mubarak mob.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the Palestine Authority’s inept boss and arch foe of Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, is ignoring all sage advice by preparing a second bid for fig-leaf statehood at the UN, knowing it will kybosh any hopes of reigniting talks with Jerusalem.

Chuck into the mix maniacal Iran’s obsession with developing a nuclear weapon that will guarantee them bully-boy status over the Middle East if only they can only annihilate Israel – in your dreams, Ahmadinejad – and the perfect storm continues to foment.

So the status quo is worsened and – unlike their creative, medieval predecessors – today’s Arabs can appear guilty of seeming unable to organise a fondu party in a funfair, so factionalised and fractious are they over ancient tribal and religious enmities among themselves.

Hence, with an Arab Spring now turned Islamic Winter, where’s this glimmer of hope I mentioned? So, consider the following carefully:-

The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized.

‘The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list.

‘The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.

‘These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.’

These aren’t my words, though I fully endorse the sentiments. No, they emanate from Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, who goes on to state tellingly, ‘If many of the Arab states are in such disarray, we should contrast them with Israel.

‘It now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of Palestinians living in Israel is far greater than in many Arab states and they enjoy far greater political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers.

‘Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank enjoy more political and social rights than in some parts of the Arab world.’

VOICE OF REASON: Saudi journalist Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

So who is this Abdulateef Al-Mulhim and is his a siren voice of reason in the Arab wilderness, where hatred is common currency and unyielding Islamo-fascists are increasingly calling the shots?

Strangely, he is a retired commodore of the Saudi navy, now a columnist in Arab News, the oil-rich desert kingdom’s first English-language newspaper.

Given the implacably Sunni Muslim House of Saud isn’t a renowned advocate of a free Press or human rights, it is bizarre Al-Mulhim was permitted to express such heretical opinions. So they must have passed muster with a censor high up the Saudi bling chain.

Al-Mulhim’s comments – and their obvious official sanction – represent a glimmer of blue-sky thinking by the ultra-conservative Saudi establishment. And it’s a sign, too, they are getting a tad hotter under their kaffiyehs about what’s long been brewing on the Iranian Shiite side of the Persian Gulf.

As small acorns become imposing oaks, many Middle East watchers are intrigued by what they perceive may be an ever-so-slight thaw between the Saudis and the Israelis, since Al-Mulhim has called into doubt the one, abiding distraction uniting Arabs: eradicating Israel.

The three wars they instigated against the Jewish state – in 1948, 1967 and 1973 – all resulted in ignominious loss, along with large tranches of territory that Israel negotiated back to Egypt and Jordan in exchange for ‘cold’ peace deals.

Abbas, however, hasn’t shown he’s serious about such accommodations, much to the satisfaction of his glee club of purblind, Left-liberal luvvies, whose credo is echoed daily by the anti-Zionist cheerleaders at The Guardian, BBC and New York Times.

The luvvies, of course, will continue to pretend that Israel is still the nub of all Middle East woes and 250 million Arabs will make love, not war when those five million stubborn Jews disappear in a second Holocaust and the Palestinians reclaim a ‘homeland’ that was never their birthright in the first place.

Al-Mulhim has shot that proposition down in flames, as if to say ‘It’s not Israel, stupid’; that’s just been a convenient sideshow, camouflaging the real problem of tyrants suppressing their people.

While I’m not naive enough to imagine such ideological foes as Saudi Arabia and Israel can kiss and make up, a chink of light has broken through the gloom, even if it is largely based on the premise that my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

It might never guarantee total peace, but if back-channel diplomacy can unite Saudi influence with Israeli can-do, it could put the brakes on an unfolding calamity exploding into an apocalypse.

 

Where The Guardian leads, the BBC is sure to follow

Whither next the BBC, some political and media pundits ask, while others – mainly motley, disgruntled members of Joe & Joanna Public, fed up with a diet of dog-tired repeats – may cavil and demand, ‘Why doesn’t the Beeb just wither?’

Rather like the National Health Service, Brits long retained a misty-eyed nostalgia for old Auntie, though – again like the NHS – they are fast realising it has become a misbegotten one, based on faith rather than reality.

The old tenets, as decreed by its founding father, Lord Reith, a man whose Scottish piety inspired a vision of broadcasting neutrality and integrity which formed the basis of the BBC Charter, have been whittled away and usurped by a self-serving, Left-liberal cabal.

So, while much of the BBC’s arts, magazine and drama output remain a tour de force, in the sphere of current affairs it sees itself as gatekeeper of the country’s political and moral conscience and, listing heavily to the radical as it does, it perpetuates an agenda that is arrogant, posturing and intensely self-serving.

To many this is not the role of a once-unique, public service broadcaster, propped up by an annual viewing tax (e.g. the Licence Fee) of billions, imposed on every telly-owning household in the land, even if its occupants limit their small screen entertainment to Sky News, ITV, Channel 4 or 5, The Shopping Channel or the countless other platforms that have mushroomed since the advent of the digital free-for-all.

Auntie has also become ultra-protectionist – almost neo-Stalinist – in its secrecy and sensitivity to criticism. For instance, The Balen Report of 2004, which investigated allegations of BBC bias in its Middle East coverage, was a blatant cover-up and never given a public airing. It caused the Corporation to spend hundreds of thousands (again of taxpayers moolah) fighting legal challenges to make it come clean.

It even took a recent Freedom of Information request from the online news site, The Commentator, to force the Beeb into disclosing which daily newspapers it bought. This revealed that, while the BBC procured between 40,000 and 50,000 copies of most of the day’s dailies, it bought 59,829 copies of the Guardian – a substantial proportion of the ailing paper’s print run.

The figure suggests that, while newsrooms automatically buy all the hard-copy media, employees order the Guardian for themselves.

As MEP Daniel Hannan points out, the bastion of the far-Left takes a number of assumptions as givens: i.e. police are racist, businesses are corrupt, Israel is a wrong, US Republicans are extreme, the welfare system is ungenerous, immigration is desirable, austerity and growth are contradictions.

However, readers have a choice of options which may reflect their personal prejudices and vote with their pockets when buying a newspaper. They have no such freedom of expression when it comes to watching – or switching off – the BBC. It’s pay up or be damned (and possibly face a prison sentence if you withhold your Licence Fee).

To hark back to my earlier reference of The Guardian’s influence in BBC newsrooms, one insider admitted this is no co-incidence. For not only does Auntie use this paper as a recruitment tool – thus ensuring it attracts only like-minded, Left-leaning thinkers – The Guardian’s editorial stance is often the one most popular with the Corporation’s news coverage decision-makers. And they tolerate no democratic counter-arguments.

As Hannan reported anecdotally when he tackled one editor on her failure to give airtime to that portion of the population – possibly a clear majority of Licence Fee payers – who think Britain would be better off outside the EU, she replied: ‘That’s their opinion, but we have to reflect the economic facts.’

‘She genuinely couldn’t see that hers was just as much an opinion as her viewers,’ he noted.

At sometime in the future – hardly likely under the tutelage of the next Director General, George Entwistle, a BBC apparatchik of long standing – the Beeb’s self-protectionism will be a busted flush and it will be forced to live in the real world, raising its own funds, minus the tax-payers’ crutch.

If and when it does, Auntie will only have herself to blame for lumbering viewers with Guardian-spun, pro-Left, anti-Establishment bias.

PS: It was hardly surprising the BBC’s outgoing DG, Mark Thompson, was quickly anointed boss of the New York Times, the self-styled ‘paper of record’, otherwise known as The Guardian of the USA.