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The protocols of the elders of the BBC

Sometimes things are altogether more simple than we wish them to be. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the eminent chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain, recently refused to attend the Holocaust memorial day. When asked why this was so, he muttered something about how lots of people had been killed all over the place, not least the poor Palestinians and why shouldn't we remember them, etc., etc. In the liberal press, extravagant excuses were made for Sacranie and his ludicrous chef de cabinet, Inayat Bunglawala. But I suspect that the simple answer, the one we didn't want to hear, is the most accurate: Sacranie and Mr Bunglawala don't like Jews. They are both unequivocal anti-Semites. You do not refuse to grieve for one bunch of people because another, much smaller, bunch of people have been murdered as well. Nor should you automatically equate Jews with the right-wing Zionism of Ariel Sharon: that would be like equating all black Zimbabweans with Robert Mugabe.

It's a racist thesis, isn't it? Those people who are opposed to Israel's policies are usually at pains to point out that they are not being anti-Semitic, merely anti-Zionist. It is not the Jews to whom we are opposed, they say - it's the Zionists. In which case you'd expect them to be happy to spend two minutes in silence commemorating those six million Jews, those non-Israeli citizens by definition, murdered by the Nazis. But Sacranie and Bunglawala wouldn't even cross the road to attend such a memorial. It wasn't because there are altogether too many of these sorts of commemoration these days, to the extent that they have become almost meaningless. It was because the commemoration was for the Jews; ergo, in my book, they're anti-Semitic. They're Jew-haters. I thought as much at the time and think it even more so now.

Sacranie is in a bit of a bait right now because the BBC Panorama team has just completed a programme looking at this false dichotomy I've been banging on about for the last couple of years: the New Labour notion that there is moderate Islam, represented by the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain (which speaks for, we are told, some 50 per cent of British Muslims, although by what democratic mechanism we can't be sure) and the rogue 'handful' of extremists who want the rest of us dead; and the idea that Islam, as a religion, had nothing to do with those bombings on 7 July. The journalist responsible is John Ware - a first-rate investigative reporter if ever there was one, but I'm not sure how far his powers of investigation were stretched digging into the background of the Muslim Council of Britain. There's plenty of stuff on the record which even journalists as hopeless as, say, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown or even Martin Kettle could find, if they cared to look. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Sacranie once said that death was 'too easy' for Salman Rushdie; Bunglawala meanwhile has called the creation of Israel a 'terrible mistake'.

Then there's the business about the Holocaust and the fact that both are, at best, equivocal about suicide-bombings against the Israelis, regardless of the number of non-combatants killed (just Jews, after all). They condemned the attacks upon London, right enough - as did the 'extremist' group Hizb ut-Tahrir: but this weasely refusal to grip hold of the fact that suicide-bombings against civilians are savage and bestial no matter where they are effected, no matter who is killed - infidels, Jews, Muslims - is the crucial point. It is a short step from assigning all Israelis the status of combatants (as the apologists for such murders do) to assigning the same status to the British people for our support of the war in Iraq. It's all there in the Koran, if you're in doubt.

I have not seen this new documentary - but one should assume that, Ware and the Panorama team having been responsible, it's pretty good. I'm told that it was a struggle to get it commissioned in the first place; the BBC has found itself a little tongue-tied and - dare one say it - PC on the issue of the inherent nature of Islam. It wants to keep everybody happy and on-side and it seems to have swallowed the plainly absurd idea that organisations such as the MCB are, in some undefined, ephemeral way, at one with the rest of us. Let there be no doubt any more about this: they are not. Now Sacranie has fired off a very pompous letter to the director-general of the BBC criticising the thrust of Mr Ware's programme and implying it should not have been made at all. Further, he has argued that the programme was the result of the BBC's pro-Israeli bias. Part of that famous pro-Israeli bias exemplified by Orla Guerin and James Reynolds's reports from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and the Gaza Strip, presumably. You would have to be blind and deaf to conclude that the BBC was pro-Israeli - either that or profoundly, wildly, paranoiacally prejudiced in the other direction and, one might reasonably assume, anti-Semitic to boot. I wonder within which category Sacranie falls.

I am told that the BBC has no intention of giving in on this issue, that the programme will soon be screened in unadulterated form, that no punches will be pulled. Let us hope that this is indeed the case and that Sacranie has already been told by Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, to get lost.

Trouble is, Islam as a religion does not have much time for such decadent, Western, Judaeo-Christian notions as freedom of speech - and, more dangerously still, there are altogether too many white liberals around prepared to pay obeisance to such repulsive and authoritarian instincts. We are soon to have a law on the Statute Books which forbids you and me from suggesting, however tentatively, that Islam is a primitive, vicious and bigoted religion. The law has been devised to placate the likes of Sacranie and, indeed, secure the votes of the Muslim community. Now the MCB - 'moderates', remember - wishes to stop the BBC screening a programme which investigates its core beliefs and which challenges the politically expedient idea that we are all basically in accord - the Christians and the Muslims.

John Ware, for his part, says he wishes there were a free and open debate about Islam, unpolluted by imprecations that those who might challenge the established, convenient shibboleths are motivated to do so because they are agents working secretly for the state of Israel, such as, uh, the BBC. In other words, he wants the debate to be unpolluted by paranoia with a side order of anti-Semitism.

Good luck, mate. And if the BBC does cave in and either scrap the showing or soften its tone, we should make sure the thing is shown in cinemas across the country. As decadent Western cockroaches destined to burn in the fires of hell, we don't have much going for us. Except freedom of speech.


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Original piece is http://www.spectator.co.uk/article_pfv.php?id=6505


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