The BBC’s Hatred For Israel

November 21, 2005

Israeli-Palestinian Impartiality Review BBC Governance Unit Room 211, 35 Marylebone High Street London, W1U 4AA United Kingdom israelipalestinian.review@bbc.co.uk

Dear Reviewers,

“This is not the first time, of course, that the BBC has taken on Israel in an effort to delegitimate it and, as in its previous efforts, it uses all possible means, including lies and distortions.” writes Daniel Doron.

These are fighting words from the President of The Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, an independent pro-market policy think tank.

Doron is one of many BBC watchers who has found bias in too many BBC newscasts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And in most documentaries. Doron makes a compelling and convincing case.

I am submitting his article (below) to be considered for your review. I would hope to read your comments on the aspects raised when your Report is published.

Respectfully,

Jock L. Falkson

The BBC’s Hatred For Israel by Daniel Doron

Those who wonder why Israel was chosen as the state most dangerous to world peace in a recent European poll need only look to the European media.

A recent BBC film Israel’s Secret Weapons, devoted to exposing Israel as a prime international threat worse than Saddam Hussein, is a prime example of how the European media vilifies Israel. The film was made prior to the American invasion, as part of an effort to delegitimate American efforts by showing that US ally Israel is by far the greater offender, and if anyone should be bombed Israel should be first.

Israel’s Secret Weapons was shown at the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s British film week sponsored by the British Council.

This is not the first time, of course, that the BBC has taken on Israel in an effort to delegitimate it and, as in its previous efforts, it uses all possible means, including lies and distortions.

From the beginning of the al-Aksa intifada in 2000, the BBC’s reports were routinely skewed in favor of Arafat’s terrorist regime. The BBC regularly suggested that Israel was the prime instigator of “the cycle of violence.” It accused Israel of killing far more Arab children than even exaggerated Palestinian Authority figures.

In November 2000 the BBC sank to the nadir of its pathological hatred for Israel, revealing the depth of its anti-Semitic bias. It opened a program about Palestinian children killed in the intifada by presenting as fact, complete with shots of skulls, the ancient anti-Semitic calumny of “Herod’s massacre of the innocents.”

Cutting straight from the skull-stuffed crypt (adult skulls, mind you) – which the BBC describes as the actual location where an ancient “massacre” of children occurred – to Manger Square, where a funeral was taking place of an Arab boy “shot through the head” (gangster style) by Israeli troops, the BBC brazenly drew a straight line connecting an alleged attempt to kill the child Christ to Israel’s killing of Palestinian children.

Throughout the intifada, the BBC repeated – with no corroborating evidence – the worst Arab fabrications and calumnies. In its expositions of the background to the conflict, it always endorsed the Palestinian narrative, though it must be aware that it is historically false.

The many Arabs present on the BBC’s talk shows can spread any calumny about Israel and they will never be challenged by BBC hosts. Nor will the BBC allow a proper rebuttal by Israelis. For “balance,” the BBC carefully chooses pro-Arab Israelis or some fumbling official from our pitiful foreign ministry. Anyone who is capable of mounting an effective rebuttal to the BBC’s distortions and lies is never be invited to speak.

BESIDES ITS news broadcasts, the BBC has been devoting several special programs to the task of delegitimizing Israel. A memorable hatchet job – also shown at the Cinematheque – was the Panorama program framing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the “real” killer in the Christian Lebanese militia massacre of innocent Palestinians at Sabra and Shatilla. The BBC’s “case” was woven from a tissue of lies, distortions, significant omissions, allegations lacking any factual basis, and a sickening animus toward Sharon and Israel.

The same malevolent spirit animates Israel’s Secret Weapon. The film asks “Which state harbors the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction, refusing to let anyone inspect them?” It portrays Israel as a police state that commits atrocities just like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq; a state that punished virtuous whisleblower Mordechai Vanunu (whom the program compares to Andrei Sakharov) in the most cruel and illegal manner.

Everyone in the film condemns Israel except for Shimon Peres. Director Olenka Frenkiel manipulates Peres by asking him long leading questions and then cutting Peres’s responses to the bare minimum. When the dishonest Frenkiel asks Peres why Israel should not be treated like Iraq, the outraged Peres responds with “How could you compare, when Saddam killed so many innocent people and used gas against the Iranians and the Kurds?”

Olenka’s response is “Some do compare.” We soon find out who: The film cuts to two sequences, the first showing the Sabra and Shatilla massacre and suggesting that Sharon is the killer, and the second showing the alleged use by Israel of some mysterious gas against civilians in Gaza. Both sequences are based on falsehoods, but they establish the comparison between Israel and Iraq’s Saddam.

Israel’s Secret Weapon was followed by a panel discussion moderated by the IBA’s David Wiztum. It was heartening to hear how even those who generally criticize Israeli policies from the Left were shocked by the BBC animus and bias. The generally cool Wiztum spoke in anger.

Even Haaretz’s Danny Rubinstein, who is sympathetic to the PA, pointed to the film’s gross errors and distortions. Another panelist, author Lynda Grant, a writer for the Guardian, deplored the tendency of journalists to cast themselves as crusaders for a cause rather than report facts.

Hebrew University’s professor Robert Wistrich, an expert on anti-Semitism, said that “the documentary tries to suggest that Israel is the real rogue regime in the Middle East, an axis of evil, a state more dangerous than Saddam’s Iraq. It tells us that Dimona, not Baghdad, should be the target; that Mordechai Vanunu was a hero and saint, unjustly prosecuted by a quasi-police state masquerading as a democracy.”

Israel’s precarious position as the only state threatened with extinction was never mentioned in the film.

“Such a distorted documentary in the current British climate can only inflame anti-Israel feelings and antipathy to Jews still further,” Wistrich concluded.

But the BBC representative stonewalled. He thought the film was a “cracking good yarn,” like soap opera stuff, and he refused to address any of the distortions and the lies it contained.

In the 1947-8 War of Independence, British policemen and soldiers disarmed Hagana members and then left them among Arab crowds to be cut to pieces. The BBC is trying to do the same to Israel. By portraying it as the worst criminal state and by totally whitewashing Arab dictatorships, especially the gangster-ruled Palestinian Authority – which it casts in the role of the righteous underdog, fighting against oppression – the BBC tries to disarm Israel morally and politically.

As the panel discussion indicated, it is no use pleading with the BBC for fairness, decency, or justice. It is determined in its mission.

It is time for Israel to recognize who its enemies are and to protect itself from them.

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One Response to “The BBC’s Hatred For Israel”

  1. Bertie and Elsa Humphreys, Northern Island Says:

    Well said as usual, Jock, but even the Devil deserves his due.

    On this occasion, the BBC, and particularly BBC24, were reasonably objective, identifying the targets, namely Hezbollah as “terrorists”. It was noticable that commentators operating within the Lebanon were more careful to use language deemed to be politically correct than their colleagues in Israel and elsewhere. It could be said that Israeli PR left a lot to be desired, with the notable exception of one young man who got everything right during a lengthy BBC interview yesterday afternoon.

    Here in Northern Ireland, the pro-Palestinian lobby picketed te BBC yesterday with accusations of pro-Israel bias! It is a peculiar situation – by and large, the Palestinian cause is championed by the extreme republican elements, whilst Israel is supported by the right-wing “loyalists”. And with them on our side, who needs an enemy?

    We don’t get CNN, so I cannot comment, but the most biassed reporting came from ITN Channel 4 where one might have thought that the station was on the Hezbollah payroll. Al Jazeera was more objective! If the WW2 offence of “giving comfort to the enemy” had still been in force, Joh Snow and one of his sidekicks could well have been open to prosecution, so vitriolic were their attacks upon the Governments of Israel, Britain and America. They have now moderated their language quite a lot, but I still feel like putting a brick through the TV screen at times.

    Anyhow, keep your head down – our thought are with you.

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