Gilad Atzmon

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BBC finds Andrew Marr guilty of Telling the Truth

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Reported by Gilad Atzmon

 Fake news is so deeply entrenched in the British media that telling the truth can get you into real trouble.  The Daily Mail reported yesterday that Andrew Marr was found “guilty of a breach of rules over a 'misleading' claim that Israel killed 'lots of Palestinian kids'”

During the 8 April Sunday news programme, Marr concluded a discussion of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack on civilians by saying: "And the Middle East is aflame again. ‘I mean there’s lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by Israeli forces."

Antisemitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti lodged a complaint, saying that: “when talking about a story on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Andrew Marr for some reason decided to talk about Israel (which was unrelated anyway). He stated 'there’s a lot of Palestinian kids being killed further south by Israeli forces'.”

It seems that Andrew Marr had failed to grasp that Britain is no longer a free space. Thoughts, ideas, associations and the like cannot be shared or explored in the open unless approved by one specific foreign lobby.   

Sacerdoti  wrote to the BBC that the reference to Gaza is “completely incorrect and is made up. This was irrelevant to the conversation on Syria… and also actually completely false.”

In a free world, journalists, especially leading national broadcaster presenters, are encouraged to make relevant associations, use metaphorical language and re-define the boundaries of the discussion. But 2018 Britain has drifted away from the free world. It has managed to fulfil Orwell’s prophecy. Within the context of the emerging conflict at Gaza’s border, Marr’s comment wasn’t just accurate, it was prescient, capturing the essence of  the evolving massacre and the scale of violence to come. Marr could see that Israel deploying hundreds of snipers against unarmed protestors is a slaughter in the making. Marr grasped the meaning of the event before it made it into the ‘news.’

Last Saturday the Health Ministry in Gaza unveiled detailed official statistics on Palestinians killed and wounded by Israeli soldiers' gunfire since the start of rallies and protests in the Gaza Strip on March 30. According to the report, 131 Palestinians were killed, 14,811 were wounded, including 7,975 treated in hospitals. 54 had to have either their upper or lower limbs amputated. By 8 April, Marr, like many other journalists and commentators, saw it coming: “the Middle East is aflame again-lots of Palestinian kids being killed’ was an insightful warning.

One would expect the BBC to be sophisticated enough to point out that in hindsight, Marr was proved both astute and correct. The events Marr observed did result in disastrous bloodshed. 

BBC producers initially tried to defend Marr’s comments by pointing out that five ‘younger people’ had been killed between the beginning of the year and the date of the programme. They also said several Palestinian children and younger people were killed in the week following the broadcast, but Mr Sacerdoti, didn’t give up on his complaint, arguing that later events could not be used to justify Mr Marr’s comments.

Fraser Steel, head of executive complaints at the BBC, wrote to Mr Sacerdoti saying: ‘The BBC’s guidelines require that output is “well sourced” and “based on sound evidence… In the absence of any evidence to support the reference to “lots” of children being killed at the time of transmission, it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point. ‘We therefore propose to uphold this part of your complaint.” 

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