The BBC’s Zionism laid bare

The BBC, Britain’s state broadcaster, has gone rogue – more so than the norm for this rather sick behemoth.

On 31 August we reported that the BBC News website’s Middle East editor, Raffi Berg, had asked his staff to belittle Israel’s aggression on Gaza. Just a day later the corporation over-reached itself once again with its zeal for Zionism and Israel. The extract below, from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, says it all.

On 1 September, BBC Two screened the first of a five-part series called “The Story of the Jews”, presented by Simon Schama. In a Radio Times interview this month, Schama describes himself as a “historian-Zionist” and says he will make “the moral case for Israel” in the final episode of the series.

Here we have the BBC giving a platform to a Zionist to make a “moral case for Israel”, unopposed, unchallenged and unanalysed.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign and five other leading organizations have written to Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, to question the BBC’s impartiality over this broadcast. The letter also asks why the BBC pulled “Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story” from its schedule, but is happy to broadcast Schama’s pro-Israel programme.

“Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story” was due to be shown on BBC Four in April. The documentary uses archaeological evidence to claim that the mass exodus of Jews from Jerusalem in 70AD – the story on which Zionists claim the right to “return” and colonize Palestinian land – never happened.

Open letter to Janice Hadlow

3 September 2013

Open letter

Dear Ms Hadlow

In June, we wrote to the BBC to express our concern at the removal of the documentary “Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story” from the BBC Four schedule with no credible explanation.

We note that an edited version of the documentary is now due to be shown in November, with an accompanying discussion programme. The discussion programme, according to the BBC, is intended to provide balance and context to the documentary.

We also note the new BBC Two series “The Story of the Jews”, presented by Simon Schama. In an interview in the Radio Times (31 August – 6 September), Schama describes himself as an “historian-Zionist” and says he will be making “the moral case for Israel” in the final episode of this five part series.

We find it alarming that the BBC is giving a platform to an openly pro-Israeli commentator to make the “moral case” for Israel. Schama’s views will go unopposed, unchallenged and unanalysed. This is a far cry from the balanced and impartial broadcasting that the BBC claims to champion.

The difference in the BBC’s treatment of “Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story” and “The Story of the Jews” is a further indicator of the organization’s lack of impartiality in its treatment of Palestinian and Israeli issues.

Why can the one documentary only be screened with an accompanying discussion programme, while the other will be broadcast with neither balance nor context?

We await your clarification on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Colborne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Daud Abdullah, Middle East Monitor
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
Abe Hayeem, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
Ismail Patel, Friends of Al-Aqsa
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Seven years ago the BBC’s governing body commissioned an independent report which concluded that BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture”. The reasons for this have long been the subject of serious academic studies, the best known of which is Greg Philo’s and Mike Berry’s More Bad News from Israel.

Nothing has happened since that independent report – if anything, BBC coverage has become even more biased in favour of Israel. It’s time now for a high-powered independent enquiry by an authoritative body that has nothing whatsoever to do with the BBC.

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