How a book by anti-Israel lobbyists helped turn the world against the nation

I confess I am more than a little obsessed with a book called “Publish It Not: The Middle East cover-up.” It was published in 1975 and written by the appalling, Israel-hating (possibly Jew-hating) late Labour MP Christopher Mayhew and the Times journalist and co-founder and director of anti-Israel lobbying group CAABU (Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding) Michael Adams. Though elegant, this tome was nothing but a toxic brew of prejudice, unsubstantiated rumour and paranoid imagining from men who hated  Israel and clearly adored Arabs. Its main premise – based on no evidence or samples of misdeeds – was that Jews couldn’t be trusted to report fairly on the Middle East because, well, they are Jews.

The fact that some Jewish journalists were far-left politically – or bent over so far backwards to be “neutral” that they sometimes toppled into being anti-Israel – counted for nothing and while it’s impossible to say definitively that the book was responsible, it is a matter of record that quite shortly after its publication, the BBC dropped the blameless Jewish stringer Michael Elkins while The Guardian moved its demonstrably unbiased Israel correspondent, Eric Silver, to another “desk.”

Why do I obsess now over a book published almost 50 years ago? Because the chickens it so expertly hatched, did not just come home to roost but at the BBC, they seem to have taken over the farmyard.

While it would have been fine to have genuinely neutral journalists of any religious persuasion reporting on this turbulent region, that is not how it turned out. While some of the new Middle East correspondents and editors were genuinely neutral, some of those taking up influential roles – in addition to Adams himself who was Middle East Editor at The Times – were clearly partisan, such as Robert Fisk, the Middle East editor at the the newest – and briefly one of the most influential – British newspaper,The Independent.

So we had “neutrality” versus a clear pro-Palestine partisanship.

Meanwhile, the BBC was busily appointing staffers who were deemed “neutral” because they were not Jews. But no-one thought to examine whether they were actually “neutral” or perhaps partisan because of personal affiliations or attachments, or simply due to their politics because, let’s face it, newsrooms everywher were (and still are) dominated by Liberal-Arts graduates. They have not only imbibed a brew of Leftish ideologies (of which anti-Zionism is one), but if they had studied at any British university from the 80s onward, would additionally have been exposed to the fraudulent Palestinian narrative of lies, half-truths, distortions and massive, critical omissions.

But Mayhew and Adams could not, in their wildest dreams, have anticipated the changes in British media over the following decades including the appointment to a leading national newspaper of an editor who had co-authored a play championing Palestinians that was based entirely on anti-Israel agit-prop. There was  also a changing social landscape heralding multi-cultural Britain, that would see the BBC embracing “inclusivity.”

Despite the Mayhew-Adams doctrine which suggests that adherents to a religion (specifically Jews) can’t be trusted to be “neutra,”  I believe it is entirely possible for people of any religious persuasion – including people of the Moslem faith – to be balanced, unbiased and entirely neutral, However because journalists of any religious persuasion can be balanced, unbiased and neutral, it doesn’t  mean they all are. And that brings me to a recent, disturbing  report by Honest Reporting claiming  that the BBC has ignored “for more than a year” complaints about several overtly anti-Israel BBC staffers – including one based in the UK where she’s involved in curating videos. And as well as ignoring complaints, it “allowed them to report on the current Israel-Hamas war.”

The report states that in 2022, it uncovered social media posts written by a Lebanon-based journalist who has worked for the BBC since 2019 in which she described Israel as a “terrorist” and “apartheid” state in tweets supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign. There were also a number of posts from an account belonging to a Jordan-based BBC television and radio producer, which described “all Israelis” as “terrorists” and suggested only Arabs had any right to the land.

Honest Reporting also revealed that a UK-based BBC video curator, Hala Hindawi, had labelled Israeli Jews as “settlers” and in posts to her Twitter/(X) account, accused Israel of deliberately “targeting children,” which Honest Reporting describes as “reminiscent of ancient blood libels.”

Honest Reporting says it complained to the BBC in August 2022 over these “breaches of impartiality guidelines” and that the BBC response was that  where its rules had been breached, such cases would be “dealt with appropriately.”

It  is  now March 2024. And these are by no means the only examples of overt bias and anti-Israel hate from people who work for a broadcaster whose world-wide renown is based on belief in its “fairness” and balance; a broadcaster viewers and listeners trust to be unbiased.

The Jewish journalists impugned by the  lobbyists Mayhew and Adams (and ultimately removed because of them) were blameless. They  were targeted because, well, maybe they would not have been such useful or malleable conduits for the tide of lies and propaganda that was to follow. Perhaps, therefore,  it is time for another book that would set out how the British public – and the world – has been carefully led into a set of beliefs relating to Israel that are so demonstrably false that believing them is roughly equivalent to believing the Earth is flat.

About the Author
Jan Shure held senior editorial roles at the Jewish Chronicle for three decades. and previously served as deputy editor of the Jewish Observer. She is an author and freelance writer and wrote regularly for the Huffington Post until 2018. In 2012 she took a break from journalism to be a web entrepreneur.