When BBC Interviewed Me

November 14, 2005

To:
Israeli-Palestinian Impartiality Review
BBC Governance Unit
London

Dear Reviewers,

When BBC expresses anti-Israel bias it hurts Israel far more than other networks. Because your audience outreach is greater by far than even the most popular US networks.

You may not think so, nor realize it, but you cannot hurt Israel without harming Jews. Not only Jews in Israel, but wherever Jews live. For this reason your responsibility to be impartial in your Israel reporting is all the more essential.

My updated article, below, exposes BBC bias on “West Bank Occupation”.

Respectfully (etc.)

I dreamed I was being interviewed by an erudite BBC newscaster who was objectively seeking to endorse the Palestinians view that Israel is a colonial occupying power carrying out the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, known as the West Bank. When I awoke I quickly jotted down the questions and my answers while they were fresh in my memory.

BBC: I’ve asked you to our studios to comment on the Palestinian view, expressed here every day that Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank. What is your response?

Me: We have to go back to Israel’s 1948 War of Independence when Jordan first conquered this territory and later called it the West Bank. In the 1967 Six Day War that followed, Jordan was defeated and Israel moved in. This explains why the West Bank was in fact never Palestinian territory.

BBC: Then why do the Palestinians claim it as their territory over which they have inalienable rights?

Me: Allow me to remind you that in 1967 there had never been a Palestinian nation, with a Palestinian flag, national anthem, government, or government in exile. So the Palestinians never had any inalienable rights to the West Bank. Otherwise their Jordanian brothers who went to war on Israel for their benefit would surely have ceded that territory to them. Nor did the so called Palestinians request sovereignty.”

BBC: But the Palestinians are surely a nation today?

Me: Yes, I agree. But we are talking about a new nation – one which only began to coalesce after the Palestine Liberation Army was founded in 1964. It is only after that a Palestinian nationality came to into existence.

BBC: Why then do the Palestinians insist that Israel is occupying their land? You did establish settlements on the West Bank did you not?

Me. Yes we did, but the Palestinians distorted the facts as a deliberate strategy intended to mislead. A lie that repeated often enough can unsettle a truth. But it does not abrogate the truth. I say it was Israel’s right to establish settlements in the territories.

BBC: The Palestinians would certainly deny that. What is your proof?

Me: The proof of course is in the history books. I quote EUGENE V. ROSTOW*, who was the US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969.

Mr. Rostow described the situation we’re talking about, very accurately in The New Republic, October 1991. This deals fully with UN Resolution 242 which he actually helped to write. Rostow says unequivocally:

“Resolution 242 calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved.

“When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ not from ‘the’ territories, nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, to secure and recognized boundaries, agreed to by the parties.”

As if that were not enough proof of Israel’s legal right to administer these territories, Mr. Rostow adds, in the same article that . . .

“Resolution 338, passed after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, makes resolution 242 legally binding.”

BBC: Well I must say that is news to us here at the BBC. But I notice you’ve ducked the question of the settlements. The main complaint of the Palestinians is that these settlements are illegal and that Israel must withdraw from them.

Me: Rostow gives chapter and verse regarding the absolute right of Israelis to settle in the West Bank. Not as illegal colonists as Arab propaganda wants the world to believe, but as of right.

BBC: Well tell us about that instead of criticizing the other side’s propaganda.

Me: In an earlier article in The New Republic, April 23, 1990, under the heading of “Jewish right to “close settlement” Mr. Rostow writes:

• “The British Mandate recognized the right of the Jewish people to ‘close settlement’ in the whole of the Mandated territory.”

• “The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan river, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable.”

• “That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

• “The Jewish right of settlement recognized by the Mandate will have to be taken into account in the process of making peace.”

There’s more if you want, but I suggest your researchers read Rostow’s article in full.

BBC: Seeing we’ve given so much time to the Palestinians recently I’ll give you another minute.

Me: In that case I’ll give you another few Rostow quickies.

  1. “The Mandate does not permit even a temporary suspension of the Jewish right of settlement in the parts of the Mandate west of the Jordan River.”

  2. “Many believe that the Palestine Mandate was somehow terminated in 1947, when the British government resigned as the mandatory power. This is incorrect.”

  3. “Power ‘shall not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. But, says Rostow, the Jewish settlers in the West Bank are volunteers. They have not been ‘deported’ or transferred by the government of Israel.”

  4. “The West Bank is . . . an unallocated part of the British Mandate.”

  5. “The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there.” {} {} {}

Respectfully (etc) (All emphasis in this article, mine.)

*EUGENE V. ROSTOW Former Under Secretary of State 1966-69 Distinguished Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.

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