Sad Decline of the BBC

January 12, 2010


Evgeny Kissin, the world-famous classical pianist, was described in these terms by the Times [10th May, 1999], "All the hall marks of his genius - and one does not use the word lightly - were on display: the rich, sonorous tone, the dazzling fingerwork and, above all, the inspired fantasy. So compelling is Kissin's pianism, so fresh his response to even the most familiar phrases, that one hangs on every note. The end of the slow movement found me gripping the armrest of my seat, mesmerized by the poetry of his reading."

Kissin began to play by ear and improvise on the piano at the age of two. At six years of age, he entered a school for gifted children, the Moscow Gnessin School of Music. At the age of ten, he made his concerto debut playing Mozart's Piano Concerto K. 466 and gave his first solo recital in Moscow one year later. He is now a British citizen.

After reading a dispatch by Tom Gross [December 23, 2009, titled "BBC feeding infamous anti-Semitic lies to Iranians -- in Persian" (which you can read here], Kissin wrote an open letter, for which he may well be ostracized by fellow musicians, sent to the Director-General of the BBC who has yet to answer.


Open letter to the Director General of the BBC
From: Evgeny Kissin

Dear Sir,

I first came to live in this country thirteen years ago and became a British subject seven years ago, having grown up in the Soviet Union. I was inspired and proud to belong to the country of Winston Churchill, who famously said "There is no anti-Semitism in England because we do not consider ourselves more stupid than the Jews" Above all, the BBC and especially its World Service had always been a beacon of light, of truth and objectivity to those of us behind the Iron Curtain, in the Evil Empire. Reaching out to far corners of the world, it was the voice of a country which for us was a model of democracy and human rights.

Since a long time now, I receive verified reports on an almost daily basis of the BBC's slander and bias towards Israel, painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda. This culminated with the BBC's Persian Service's blood libel concerning Israel's alleged harvesting of Palestinian organs and blood for future transplant. It beggars belief that the British taxpayer should be funding an organisation which is aligning itself with Iran's despotic leader in its anti-Semitic propaganda.

Other print media, like the Guardian, which erroneously printed this libel, propagated by Israel's enemies, have since apologised. I am not aware of any such retraction from the BBC.

Is it not high time for the BBC to return to the values for which it was so much respected before it finds itself in the garbage of history together with Pravda, Tass, Volkischer Beobachter and Der Angriff?

Yours faithfully,
Evgeny Kissin


#1 SimonSays on Tuesday January 12, 2010 at 9:59am

Sticking to the facts (and not the tone or arguments) of Kissin’s message, I would have to say that he is misinformed.

I am unable to verify his claims about what was broadcast on BBC Persia, however it took all of 5 minutes to see that while the Guardian did indeed apologize for their “serious editing error” for the title of their Dec. 2009 article on organ harvesting in Israel: , they do not at this time appear to have retracted the story itself:

Here is the main part of the Guardian article above that pertains to the facts of the organ harvesting claims:

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

The Israeli military confirmed to the programme that the practice took place, but added: “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer.”

Hiss said: “We started to harvest corneas ... whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

However, there was no evidence that Israel had killed Palestinians to take their organs, as the Swedish paper reported. Aftonbladet quoted Palestinians as saying young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israeli forces and their bodies returned to their families with missing organs. The interview with Hiss was released by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley who had conducted a study of Abu Kabir.

She was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while Palestinians were “by a long shot” not the only ones affected, she felt the interview must be made public, because “the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, [is] something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered.”

#2 george_fish (Guest) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 at 4:25pm

Just to say i am an active, proud member of the Center For Inquiry in Indiana, & am very grateful for this organization & the open debate it encourages & engenders—on all subjects.

#3 Max (Guest) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 12:34am

The BBC headline reads almost the same as the Guardian’s original headline, which the Guardian retracted.

#4 F. Bacon (Guest) on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 2:23pm

One must consider the source of dissention and whether this source has a vested interest in offering such dissent.

On my suspicion I sought a bio of Mr. Kissin.  I find he comes from a Jewish family.  Wouldn’t the complaint hold more water if it were from a neutral party? Yet, we hadn’t heard of another but this one.  Where is the complaint from a disinterested party? 

Should a Palestinian complain the BBC report Palestinian atrocities?

If fairness is expected of the BBC, it can only give alternative views, not retract the story whose claims are without contention.  When atrocities occur on the Palestinian side, these should be reported with equal frequency.

#5 Max (Guest) on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 5:00pm

“Where is the complaint from a disinterested party?”

Disinterested parties are not interested in complaining.
Would you request a “neutral party” if a black celebrity complained about racism? Who’d be the neutral party if a woman complained about sexism?

#6 F. Bacon (Guest) on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 10:58pm

The common definition of a “disinterested party” is “unaffected by self-interest”.  When someone has a vested interest in creating unbalanced reporting by a media outlet, it runs counter to the rights of others to hear both sides of a story as well as to the right of a reporter as to freedom of expression. 

The proper way to counter prejudice is to present opposing arguments, not by limiting public funding to the media outlet. 

Personally, I enjoy BBC because of their balance in presenting the Palestinian conflict.

#7 Max (Guest) on Monday January 18, 2010 at 5:47am

“The proper way to counter prejudice is to present opposing arguments, not by limiting public funding to the media outlet.”

In other words, a publicly funded media outlet can say whatever the hell it wants, even if it’s prejudiced, and not be accountable to the taxpayers who are forced to fund it.

#8 F. Bacon (Guest) on Monday January 18, 2010 at 10:26am

On the other hand, witness the lack of reporting in the U.S. when media willingly censor themselves for the aims of being politically correct and avoid the accusation of prejudice.  Only the publically funded network occasionally alludes to the possibility that there may be atrocities being committed by allies of the U.S. government.

#9 JohnnyCrash on Monday February 01, 2010 at 4:28am

I am unaware of the BBC’s reporting one way or the other - I do not listen/read/watch personally to make a first-hand judgment.  Unfortunately, the news is often more about selling commercial air time than selling the facts.

The conflict in the middle east need not hinge on antisemitic reports of organ harvesting.  Both sides are awash in religious zealotism and the tinkering of religion in a peaceful coexistence.  Israel has its prosemitism, Palestinians have their antisemitism.  Both draw their sources from religion, not the BBC.  Even if the news was 100% accurate, prophesies abound and “holy” parcels of land are the purview of sacred texts allaying any guilt of ownership at any cost.

Both sides have much blood on their hands for no good reasons… a Palestinian home among a block of Jewish settlements couldn’t harm anyone if the violence of religion and race were neutered.  Likewise for the Jewish family moving in among the Palestinians.  Racist reporting only aids the common enemy - ignorance.

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