Mainstreaming extremism on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 and the British Library collaborate on the collection of recordings for ‘The Listening Project’.

The following description of that project comes from the synopsis of a segment of one of the BBC’s recordings which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on April 25th 2014.

“The Listening Project is a Radio 4 initiative that offers a snapshot of contemporary Britain in which people across the UK volunteer to have a conversation with someone close to them about a subject they’ve never discussed intimately before. The conversations are being gathered across the UK by teams of producers from local and national radio stations who facilitate each encounter. Every conversation – they’re not BBC interviews, and that’s an important difference – lasts up to an hour, and is then edited to extract the key moment of connection between the participants. Most of the unedited conversations are being archived by the British Library and used to build up a collection of voices capturing a unique portrait of the UK in the second decade of the millennium.”The Listening Project

Titled “Adie and Ruth – Adventure in the Blood“, that particular edition of ‘The Listening Project’ featured a topic which the two participants had certainly “discussed before” – not least on BBC local radio in 2009, as is shown here.

Ruth: “We were on the phone to you one day and you said ‘Hi Mum, I’m in Cyprus painting a boat getting ready to go off to take things to Gaza’ – yeah? We had no idea, I don’t think, of the danger that you were going into and of course you didn’t tell us, did you?”

Adie: “No, I mean well, you know, you feel a bit powerless and it was something I really wanted to do, seeing this isolated people, was go out there. And one of the ways of doing that was through these boats and we were ready to set off.”

Ruth: “It wasn’t a very big boat, was it?”

Adie: “It was very small, very slow; about eight miles an hour. We were going like really slow in this sort of windy way and suddenly we’ve got about eight Israeli gunships surrounding us and as we got near the land in Gaza we were attacked and err…these military speedboats came running out as we were all standing there, not entirely sure what was gonna happen and they threw us to the ground and they came on in full military gear, they beat us up a bit.”

Ruth: “Literally threw you to the ground?”

Adie: “Absolutely and they dragged us in and we were in prison for a week. I remember calling you. I got one call from our lawyer and I spoke to you briefly.”

Ruth: “You said to me ‘Piece of cake, Mum – don’t worry about it; piece of cake’. I shall never forget that. When in fact it was nothing like a piece of cake but you didn’t tell us until when you got home afterwards.”

The Listening Project’s slogan is “It’s surprising what you hear when you listen”. What is most notable about this broadcast though is what audiences – despite listening – did not hear.

They did not hear the words ‘Free Gaza Movement’, or ‘International Solidarity Movement’ or ‘Hamas’ or ‘terror attacks on Israeli civilians’. They likewise did not hear anything about Adie Mormech’s involvement with both of the organisations mentioned above or his history of anti-Israel campaigning which includes support for the anti-peace BDS movement’s campaign to bring about the demise of Israel as the Jewish state.

And they certainly were not informed about the interview below which Mormech gave to Iran’s Press TV last year (not a one-off event, by any stretch of the imagination). Mormech’s fact-free rant in that interview, and others, raises serious questions regarding his reliability and credibility as a raconteur of anything intended to be described as ‘oral history’ to an institution such as the British Library.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRyXyKPufyg

But as we see, Adie Mormech’s extremism has been repackaged by the BBC into a whimsical mother and son anecdote and archived by the British Library as part of “a collection of voices capturing a unique portrait of the UK in the second decade of the millennium”.

Notably, whilst the BBC has shown interest in serious reporting of the subject of extremism in the form of British Islamists travelling to fight in Syria, it not only continues to ignore the extremism of organisations such as the International Solidarity Movement, the Free Gaza Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the BDS campaign, but repeatedly lends its voice to the mainstreaming of those organisations and others with similar extremist ideologies. 

 

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