Searching for balance is a fool’s game

Following the revelation that the BBC Trust has censured a BBC journalist for supposed bias in his Middle East reporting, the London Independent today publishes a few letters in response:

In comments on the Jeremy Bowen affair there seems a constant confusion between two different meanings of “impartial”. The first it that if two parties disagree a report should give equal weight to the arguments of each and imply they have equal strength. The second is that if an impartial look leads to the conclusion that one side has the better of the argument then there is no harm in letting that become apparent.

I am also struck by how small both supposed errors are in the context of Bowen’s work as a whole. I am astonished the BBC report did not take the opportunity to place these two points in a wider context, and to defend its Middle East reporting as a whole – particularly when any reporting not favourable to Israel is routinely subject to organised attack.

No doubt some of these attacks are consciously biased. But in my own wide Jewish acquaintance I am more struck by a degree of self-deception, of a sort for which it is hard not to have some sympathy. Such people are not simply in the usual political position of making the strongest possible claims for their own side. They rather remind me of fond parents who cannot bear to face the fact that their only child, reared after such tribulations, over such a period of time and with such care, is in danger of turning out to be a monster.

David Boll

London NW6

Robert Fisk writes: “Anyone who has read the history of Zionism will be aware that its aim was to dispossess the Arabs and take over Palestine.” (“How can you trust the cowardly BBC?”, 16 April).

It appears that Fisk is not very familiar with the history of Zionism. In November of 1947, the Zionist leadership accepted the UN partition plan, while the Arabs vehemently rejected it. They refused to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in Palestine, regardless of its size. They started a war to prevent by force the implementation of the UN plan. Had they accepted the UN plan, their state would have been 61 years old today and thousands of lives would have been spared on both sides.

To speak of the security barrier between Israel and the West Bank, without acknowledging that it was constructed in response to a flood of suicide bombings, that killed hundreds of innocent civilians, is obscene.

Dr Jacob Amir


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