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Monday, October 10 2005

Correcting BBC's Oslo description

BBC2 TV is beginning a three-part series entitled 'Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace'. UK media monitors (including at least three HR subscribers) saw the following description of Part 1 on the BBC website:

The story of how Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak persuaded President Clinton to devote his last 18 months in office to helping make peace with Yasser Arafat. But Barak got cold feet twice. Then Ariel Sharon took a walk around Jerusalem's holiest mosques, and peace making was over.

The activists wrote to the BBC, explaining that blaming Barak and Sharon for Oslo's demise is inaccurate and tendentious (at best). BBC apparently agreed, changing the wording to:

The story of how Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak persuaded President Clinton to devote his last 18 months in office to helping make peace with Yasser Arafat. But after tense negotiations the deal was never made.

Nearly all parties agree that the 'deal was never made' due to Arafat's intransigence. Will BBC acknowledge that? This show airs tonight -- if you get BBC2 (we don't), please leave a comment here regarding the show's fairness and accuracy, or write to



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The description page for the documentary still includes this little gem:

Then Ariel Sharon made a controversial visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem, a site which is also holy to Jews.

The 'al-Asqa compound' is 'also holy to Jews' apparently.

"Ariel Sharon then made a visit to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism." - That wouldn't quite fit with the BBC's agenda would it?

And look at the reading list the BBC recommends:


Two books each from Ghada Karmi and Amira Hass. Another from Edward Said!

For those who don't receive the bbc channel this programme is being shown tonight Oct 10th 9pm Pacific time on pbs KCTS

Not bad as far as the BBC goes, but a definite attempt to pin the blame on Sharon. I also note that the two people credited as advisors to the programme are Avi Shlaim (a fairly virulent 'post-zionist' historian) and Lawrence Freedman, much more balanced that Shlaim but still on record as disagreeing with Israel's analysis of the Al-Aqsa intifada. Credited as the programme's 'consultant' is Wafa Amr, a Palestinian Journalist working for Reuters.

Having watched the programme last night I would say that it lacked historical context. After all that would have given the Arabs less reason for pursuing their demands and that would not be good now would it!

No mention of how Isael had had to defend itself agaoinst continued Syrian agression for example. Assad wanted apparently to bathe his feet in Lake Kinneret.

Arafat complained of being squeezed. Too right! For once in his life he had to make a decision, and that was to proceed with terrorism.

Loved seeing how it was the pro arab french screw up clinton & Baraks give away. Or was this the bbc being anti french.

The very name of the program "Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace" should make one consider: what was the reason for the war [or wars actually] which make this peace so elusive?

The initial war began on the first day of the existence of Israel in 1948. Of the invading Arab nations in that war, only two- Egypt and Jordan, have concluded peace arrangements with Israel. Egypt's peace deal for them was based on the return of all lands captured in the Egyptian wars of 1967 and 1973. The others- Iraq, Syria as well as a number of other Arab nations are still in a formal State of War with Israel.

There were no so-called "occupied" lands - unless of course you accept the general Arab view that Israel itself is an illegal settlement that must be destroyed.

Only the continued defeat of Arab nations as well as the lose of their Soviet military supplier have resulted in a kind of peace - a peace of exhaustion and inability to mount a war but not from any real desire for peaceful co-existence and acceptance of Israel, or as it is referred to - still referred to - the Zionist Entity.

During the numerous Arab wars, whose purpose was the extermination of Israel, the UN has never issued any Resolutions condemning the actions of these aggressive Arab nations. Arab nations simply showed up at the UN after each unsuccessful war without so much as a word of reproach, took their seats and began a diplomatic war against Israel in which they have had much more success than their military endeavors.

Under those conditions and that history, the question of the "elusiveness" of peace is much more understandable.

Much as it pains me... to be fair to the programme makers, this is actually a follow up to a 1998 documentary "THE FIFTY YEARS WAR: ISRAEL AND ARABS"

Of course, you might very well think that the BBC should have repeated that documentary to provide some of the context...

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