Israel Report

June 2001         

Setting A Proper British Example


"The British are not good examples of behavior," were the recent words of Israel's Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau. The statement in itself is enough to irk any well-to-do Brit. What a cheek! "Chutzpah," we say in Hebrew. Surely it is a brave man who would challenge the great imperial conqueror, the most civilized of nations.

The calm and collected Landau is not one given to hot-headed outbursts and consequently his conclusions are largely respected. But his was not a lone voice of disdain following the BBC's shameful portrayal of the Israeli Prime Minister as a war criminal on its reputable Panorama program. The seven days following the broadcast have witnessed a united consternation from across the political spectrum, both within Israel and without.

In an additional twist of the knife, the documentary was shown repeatedly on BBC World over the weekend. Moreover, a Sunday showing was followed by a trailer for "Crusades" - an upcoming historical series - apparently an insidious comparison with the brutality of the Christian Phalange and their Israeli allies towards their Muslim victims. Ironically, as we shall see, the charter of the terror group Hamas shows that "Crusader" still means "British colonialist," however hard the BBC tries to ally itself with Muslim states.

A number of commentators have retorted that the British Broadcasting Corporation should itself be tried for war crimes. "The BBC has for a long time used their world-wide network to disseminate hostile and inaccurate propaganda against the State of Israel. This propaganda incites others to hate and kill Jews," writes Middle East analyst Emanuel A. Winston.

One of the least subtle examples of this incitement must be the recent participation of a veteran BBC correspondent at a terrorist gathering in the Gaza Strip. Faid Abu Shimalla reportedly declared at a May 6 Hamas rally that reporters and the media are "waging the campaign [against Israel] shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people."

Not long after this publicity blunder, the BBC's Sunday breakfast show with David Frost went to great lengths to stress that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Hamas, a dissident terrorist group so-called.

According to an October 25, 2000 report in THE WASHINGTON POST, however, these perpetrators of some of the most deadly terror attacks to hit Israel, meet regularly with Palestinian Authority officials.

BBC correspondents extend their double standard to their supposedly objective reports. After a series of bombings -- one by the IRA in London, and two by Hamas in Israel -- the BBC labeled IRA bombers as "terrorists," but called Palestinian bombers by the far milder term "militants." This despite the fact that the IRA at least gave prior warning of their attack, something Hamas would never do because of its intent to kill Jews.

Contrary to the consensus in the Arab media that the BBC should be congratulated on its "balanced" reporting in the Panorama film, Saleh Al-Na'ami, a senior political commentator for the Hamas weekly, AL-RISALA, stated in the June 21 edition that the demand to prosecute Israeli PM Sharon is hypocritical. Following are excerpts from his column:

"We ask once again the question we have been asking always: Who is protecting Eli Hobeika now, when nobody disputes his responsibility for these massacres? The answer is: The Syrian government who rewarded him two years after the massacre, by appointing him as a minister in the Lebanese government. The Syrian rulers, and first and foremost Bashar Al-Assad, should prove their commitment to the Palestinian cause before they fill the air with their slogans about it."

"Indeed, it is hypocritical to attack Sharon for his part in the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, without demanding from Syria and from the Lebanese government to demonstrate minimal commitment towards the Palestinian people and allow the prosecution of the real war criminals - Hobeika and the gang of lowlifes that surrounded him at the time."

"Israel has established an investigation committee headed by a judge in order to investigate the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. This committee forced the Begin government to fire Sharon from the Ministry of Defense. Israel has also discharged many of its army commanders. However, we have not seen the Lebanese government doing [what Israel did] even though one would expect them to do it."

Referring to the late Syrian president Hafez Assad, Al-Na'ami noted: "Someone who murdered tens of thousands in Hamma, cannot be expected to find any flaw in the murder of two thousands Palestinians by Hobeika."

The BBC, along with the Palestinian Arabs, was silent about Assad's butchering of 38,000 of his own citizens the same year at Hamma, a few kilometers north of Sabra and Shatilla. The same passiveness is true with respect to atrocities committed by King Hussein, Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, and by Sudanese and Indonesian dictators against non-Muslims.

While at war with reinstated Israel, soldiers under Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian leadership have implemented unimaginable torture and murder for most of the captured Israeli prisoners of war. The BBC has in its possession evidence of this and much more but chose to ignore even its own files, claims Winston. In each of six defensive wars, Sharon fought these Arab leaders and their proxies whose proclaimed goal was to push the Jews into the sea. He also fought fiercely against Arab terrorism - a threat known to extend far beyond the borders of Israel.

A JERUSALEM POST letter to the editor of June 20 supports Al-Na'ami's case - that "Israel is the only country which was actually saddened by the events at Sabra and Shatilla…the only country in the region which does not decapitate, dismember, hang or whip Arabs."

So, back to the real culprit.

Daniel Doron, in Thursday's JERUSALEM POST, examined a particularly transparent scene in which the BBC used the age-old blood libel against the Jewish people. Against the background of a pile of skulls, the BBC's Hillary Anderson began a report with, "Deep underground in Bethlehem are the remnants of an atrocity so vile, so far back in history - King Herod's slaughter of the innocents."

The subject of the segment was revealed as the deaths of Palestinian children during the recent intifada. Herod's massacre was evoked to remind the viewer that Jews, who tried to kill the infant Christ, are again busy killing innocent children. Anderson's convenient lapse in memory clouds an otherwise telling point: Herod's victims were Jewish babies.

The network is evidently no better in the studio than on the street. In a December 12, 2000 interview with Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid, BBC anchor Clair Bolderson tried her best to reverse Eid's contention that Palestinians should stop shooting at Israelis and continue with the peace process.

"The Palestinian people are the people who are rising up against what they see as the Israeli occupation, the brutality of the Israelis - are you saying they just shouldn't do that at all - that they should be just completely peaceful and quiet?" Bolderson challenged, and continued her argument through several more pressing "questions."

Such presenters revel in the anathema of settlements as an "obstruction to peace." The Oslo agreements are characterized as having failed the Palestinians, whose own violations are ignored. Indeed it was the British Mandate that called for "close settlement by Jews" on these then "unallocated territories," known to Israelis as the biblical homeland. Nevertheless, Palestinian assertions are presented as facts, whereas Israeli reports are mere allegations.

On the November 3, 2000 edition of Newshour, BBC anchorwoman Joanna Buchan hosted Palestinian Dr. Ghada Karmi, associate fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Dr. Karmi asserted that the current clashes between Israel and the Palestinians are not at all fueled by Islam, but are instead strictly a secular movement to gain land.

The BBC did not in any way challenge Karmi's allegations or mention facts which suggest the opposite - such as the calls from Muslim Sheiks to wage holy war, or the Muslim attacks and threats against Jewish (not Israeli) targets world-wide. Nor was there any reference to persistent statements from Palestinian leaders denying any Jewish religious connection to holy sites. Arafat has repeatedly stated that he represents not only all one billion Muslims, but also the Christians who follow the "Palestinian" Jesus.

In one example, the day after two Israeli Army reservists were lynched in Ramallah, a Gaza preacher, in a sermon broadcast live on official PA TV, justified the lynching and called on Muslims everywhere to slaughter all Jews:

"[The Jews] are the terrorists. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the almighty said: 'Fight them; Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them ...' Have no mercy on the Jews no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them - and those who stand by them..."

Similarly, the Hamas Charter reads: "For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah's victory prevails. Thus we shall perceive them approaching in the horizon, and this will be known before long: "Allah has decreed: Lo! I very shall conquer, I and my messenger, lo! Allah is strong, almighty."

"[The Crusades were] to be in preparation for the Imperialist invasion, as in fact [General] Allenby acknowledged it upon his entry to Jerusalem: "Now, the Crusades are over." …All this had paved the way to the loss of Palestine. We must imprint on the minds of generations of Muslims that the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise."

While Karmi would discount such rhetoric as "symbolic, " BBC listeners have the right to know about the pattern of hateful speech espoused by Muslim officials and followers. Buchan's failure to bring such statements into the light is both negligent and unprofessional.

The BBC seems to impart of an ever-present British anti-Jewish legacy. Winston recalls British intelligence early on in World War II revealing that the Germans had instituted the Wannsee policy of exterminating all the Jews in Europe and the Soviet Union. Also on the record is British policy to appease the Arabs by using their war ships to intercept desperate Jews, fleeing the graveyards of Europe and then by keeping the refugees in their own concentration camp on the island of Cyprus after WWII.

Then there was the Arab massacre of the Jews in the Hadassah convoy who had been promised the protection of the British Army and Police. And what about the Haganah youngsters who were delivered to an Arab lynch mob by British soldiers? Who was responsible for these massacres?

Of course the BBC has never investigated the connection between illegal Arab immigrants who were imported to fill labor demands in the "Jewish National Home," and the countless Jewish lives taken because those who would have fled to pre-state Israel were forbidden entry.

The BBC is attacking the Ariel Sharon who went into Lebanon to wipe out terrorists and continues to try to control undeterred PLO terror now invading the Jewish State itself. Why is the BBC using this vicious documentary now - at the peak of a wave of animosity and outright delegitimization of Israel's right of existence that has engulfed the Arab world? And when Sharon is maintaining a unilateral ceasefire, despite continued terror including a suicide beach bombing that killed 21 Israelis, mostly teenage girls?

The outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000 marked the beginning of a breaking of the ground rules set by the Kahan Commission. Ariel Sharon, assiduously kept out of the political limelight for 19 years, came roaring back into office in a landslide victory over Ehud Barak. Furthermore, the taboo on Israel going to war outside its frontiers is being undone by Arafat's regionalizing and internationalizing of his uprising.

"It is therefore no surprise that the BBC has fallen upon Sharon with the deliberate intention of accusing him of war crimes," writes 1982 media adviser to Sharon, Uri Dan. "It seems that such haters of Israel are afraid that Ariel Sharon, who defeated the Arabs in all of Israel's wars, will defeat them once again in this most crucial campaign for the fate of the Jewish state, for which he bears responsibility - just as Winston Churchill was chosen by the British to lead them in the crucial campaign against Nazi Germany."

Churchill himself, in 1943, along with Air Marshal Harris, ordered the RAF Bomber Command to bomb Hamburg, knowing that innocent men, women, and children would be killed. Towards the end of the war, British pilots were ordered to do the same to Dresden. Hundreds of thousands of civilians - the numbers are still unknown - lost their lives in the bombing.

Does the BBC question the integrity of the current Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, a Kahan Commission member, who found nothing criminal in Sharon's actions - certainly not war crimes? Is the BBC accusing Barak of collusion in covering up a war crime not committed by Sharon?

The Brits cannot claim the credit for the 'disarming of Sharon' tactic, however. It was Arafat who first called for the indictment of Israeli leaders as war criminals - first Barak, then Sharon and Mofaz. Arafat - the PLO die-hard who answers only to "President," and commands the acclaim of the international community. Unlike Sharon, Arafat is directly responsible for numerous cruel crimes around the world and for the death of thousands of innocent people.

Surely, had the BBC been genuinely concerned with human rights and war crimes, Panorama's producers would have probed the Lebanese government on the just indictment of Beirut resident Eli Hobeika. Surely there should have been an investigation of Lebanese leaders who were directly responsible for the massacre - some of whom had been interviewed on the program with far less ferocity than would Sharon have faced had he played along with the showdown.

If only the BBC would again set the standard of truth to which it first aspired, based on the verse adorning London's Broadcasting House: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

But instead, the BBC selectively omits information, cheerleads Palestinian violence, and falsifies facts, thereby encouraging hatred of the people to which its empire designated a homeland. Once considered the leading television station in the world, the voice of Britain - though couched in its former etiquette - has no doubt stooped to the role of promulgator of terrorist propaganda with grave and far-reaching consequences.

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