I don't think I knew that Sam Kiley is now Sky's middle east correspondent. I think I only found out today. Way back when, erm, 2001 he wrote a piece condemning mainstream media for buckling to Israel lobby pressure.
See how he starts his piece:
It all seems a bit silly, at first—two foreign-reporting grandees locking horns over just one word. Last week The Independent’s Robert Fisk accused the BBC of buckling to Israeli pressure to drop the use ofassassinationwhen referring to Israel’s policy of knocking off allegedterrorists.
Not true, blustered John Simpson, auntie’s world affairs editor in The Sunday Telegraph. The corporation, he insisted, had simply reaffirmed its house rules that only prominent political figures could be assassinated—though he didn’t offer an alternative term for the killing of ordinary folk.
He bitterly resented Fisk’s allegation that the Beeb had been got at. It is certainly true that the pro-Israel lobby has forced the BBC and CNN in particular to agonise over the use of loaded terms.
He sets out some examples:In war, words are a weapon, we all know that. And few belligerents have been so good at hijacking language to its own cause than Israel. The Jewish State has deliberately set out to bend English to serve its own ends. It is entirely natural that it should.
And then comes to Israel's aid:More than two score Palestinians have been bumped off over the past year on suspicion that they have, or might be, planning to kill Israelis. These operations have been described by the European Union and Britain asassassinationsandextra judicial killings. Human rights groups call them murders by death squads.The Israelis call themtargeted killings. Palestinian towns and villages have been subjected to various forms of what we call siege. According to the Israelis, abreathing closureallows some movement in and out; asuffocating closurespeaks for itself. Children shot dead by Israeli snipers and ordinary soldiers at riots are killed incrossfire.
Both sides manipulate the use and meaning of language, of course. As we have seen at the United Nations racism conference in Durban, Israel’s enemies have tried to rob the wordsBut he gets back into what he ultimately found unacceptable about media support for Israel:genocide,racismandapartheidof their real meanings by insisting that Israel is guilty of all three.
Fortunately the USA has walked out of the conference in protest at these grotesque libels of the Jewish State
I next heard of Sam Kiley on Channel 4 in March 2008 and I'd say on balance that he was mostly pro-Israel. And then again a month later he had a report in The Observer which was so pro-Israel looked like it belonged in The Times he had complained of all those years before.But in the war of words, no newspaper has been so happy to hand the keys of the armoury over to one side than The Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International. Murdoch is a close friend of Ariel Sharon, Israel’s prime minister.Knowing these details, and that Murdoch has invested heavily in Israel, The Times’ foreign editor and other middle managers flew into hysterical terror every time a pro-Israel lobbying group wrote in with a quibble or complaint, and then usually took their side against their own correspondent—deleting words and phrases from the lexicon to rob its reporters of the ability to make sense of what was going on.So, I was told, I should not refer toassassinationsof Israel’s opponents, nor toextrajudicial killings or executions. The professional Israeli hits in which at least four entirely innocent civilians have been killed were, if I had to write about them at all, justkillings, or best of all—targeted killings. The fact that the Jewish colonies on the West Bank in Gaza were illegal under international law because they violated the Geneva Convention was not disputed by my editors - but any reference to this fact wasgratuitous.The leader writers, meanwhile, were happy to repeat the canard that Palestinian gunmen were using children as human shields.One story which referred to Sharon’shard-line governmentand to a Palestinian village which washemmed in on three sidesby settlements was ripped out of the paper altogether after the first edition. These terms were deemed unacceptable, even though Sharon would have sued had I called him a softie; even though the settlements have all been built as military camps, and that the thesis of the piece, on the eve of the Arab League summit in Jordan, was that support for Yasser Arafat and participation in theAl Aqsa Intifada(another phrase The Times hated, since they thought it romanticised the uprising) was dwindling.No pro-Israel lobbyist ever dreamed of having such power over a great national newspaper. They didn’t need to. Murdoch’s executives were so scared of irritating him that, when I pulled off a little scoop by tracking, interviewing and photographing the unit in the Israeli army which killed Mohammed al-Durrah, the 12-year-old boy whose death was captured on film and became the iconic image of the conflict, I was asked to file the piecewithout mentioning the dead kid.After that conversation, I was left wordless, so I quit.
Well now Kiley is back in the Murdoch stable, as I said, as middle east correspondent for Sky and he's using another "A" word.
See this, the title alone should have the emails hurtling Skyward from lobby laptops:
Israel Settlement Row 'Risks Apartheid State'And the article doesn't pull any punches either:
There, he said it, APARTHEID, and in a Murdoch medium too. Things seem to be moving quickly now. Israel lost a war in Gaza and a vote at the UN. Now this. As it happens, I could quibble over the idea of Israel only becoming apartheid if Jews form a dominant minority in Palestine. The word apartheid says nothing as to numbers or proportions. It is a quality thing, not a quantity thing. Also, the one state ruled by Jews is the situation now, not if Israel expands or makes new Jewish only settlements.
But it is interesting to follow the twists and turns of Sam Kiley's reporting on Palestine and his unabashed use of two "A" words.