April 21 was Holocaust Day in Israel. I have to admit to a degree of schadenfreude as a result of a ruling in that same week by the BBC Trust that its chief Middle East correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, showed bias in a piece about the Six-Day War. I have felt for years that Bowen has a disturbing, almost hissing hatred of Israel when he reports on the region. He always waxes into a cooing adoration when in Palestinian hands. To this day Bowen has not responded to my letter about his BBC documentary on the IDF’s ground invasion of Gaza: I asked him how he managed to find graffiti in house after house, always conveniently written in English by Israeli soldiers!
Of course, the Israel-bashing Independent correspondent Robert Fisk went into a paroxysm of rage as soon as the BBC Trust report was issued and the ensuing blog contained so much Jew-hatred that I was minded to report it to the Community Security Trust. What was so interesting was Fisk’s hysterical accusation that the “Zionist lobby” had bullied the BBC. He concluded that the British nation could now no longer trust the BBC because even the impartial Auntie Beeb is now in the bloody grips of the Zionist shark’s jaw.
To quote Fisk, “The BBC Trust is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which abused Bowen.” He goes on: “Anyone who has read the history of Zionism will be aware that its aim was to dispossess the Arabs and take over Palestine. Why else are Zionists continuing to steal Arab land for Jews, and Jews only, against all international law?” He adds this gem: “The fact that the BBC Trust uses the Hebrew name for Har Homa — not the original Arab name, Jebel Abu Ghoneim — shows just how far it is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby.” Whenever I read about the huge, vociferous Israel lobby in the UK I do laugh: the pitifully small Anglo-Jewish community is one of the least “loud” in the world. It is important that this article names the “Zionist-driven” Trust members. They are Rotha Johnston, Chitra Bharucha, Janet Lewis-Jones, Diane Coyle, David Liddiment, Anthony Fry, Mehmuda Mian, Alison Hastings, Jeremy Peat, Patricia Hodgson, Richard Tait, and Sir Michael Lyons.
I have done some research before mouthing off about “no Zionist connections,” but despite the usual accusations in the press it is tough to find any sinister motives amongst this distinguished and diverse board of trustees.
What makes Fisk so angry is that he feels Bowen wrote a truthful piece about the Six-Day War for the BBC website and that he is a “lion led by BBC donkeys.” In his report Bowen alluded to “Zionism’s innate instinct to push out the frontier” and opined that Israel showed a “defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own.”
In my research I found the draft of a letter I had written to Helen Boaden of the BBC a year ago. In the wake of the BBC Trust’s adjudication I need say no more; it speaks for itself:
May 8, 2008
Dear Ms. Boaden,
I would like to share my views with you on a recent BBC broadcast, Jeremy Bowen’s program The Birth of Israel on BBC2 May 4.
I was astounded to hear him repeatedly purveying the revisionist anti-Zionist story of rape, pillage, murder, and expulsions by rampaging mandate-period Jews. He never mentioned in 1947 that the tormented and starving refugees from the Holocaust made up that merciless and barbaric army. Many were turned back by British forces but the remaining teenage brigades fought fearlessly. In 1948 fledgling Israel managed to defeat five truly rampaging Arab armies. …
Bowen never once explained the evolution of Zionism: Why is it that he seemed blissfully unaware of the legacy of European and English anti-Semitism (I stress “English” because Jews have flourished for centuries in Scotland and were not expelled from Scotland during the English expulsion of 1290)? Why did Bowen make it look as if a group of avaricious Jews in 1897 decided to declare Zionism a movement and just take the Arabs’ land from under their noses? …
The various Jewish charities that by then existed were formed to combat the poverty and persecution the Jews suffered across Europe. Likewise, did he ever mention the huge expulsion of Jews from their homes across Europe during the Nazi occupations as far and wide as the eye of Eichmann could see? Why did he not mention the sheer terror Jews felt even in the U.S., Canada, South America, and Africa after the Wannsee “Final Solution” Conference of 1940, during which Eichmann drew up his list of 14 million due for annihilation? What I found iniquitous in Bowen’s script was a line about the Arabs “knowing nothing” about the Nazi genocide. They knew enough about Jew-hatred to join the SS and follow the grand mufti to Berlin to join German brigades to help in the Final Solution!
Jeremy Bowen never once mentioned the Dreyfus case and the publication of J’Accuse by Emile Zola, a Christian, who had had enough of European Jew-baiting. His screed inspired the Zionist movement and its adherents were non-religious Jews like the businessman Ahad Ha’am Theodor Herzl, the Austrian chemist and author. Herzl and others explored Uganda, Madagascar, Baja California, and Palestine as possible homelands. Whilst this was going on, a million Jews left the Pale of Settlement in Russia and neighboring countries and went to South Africa, Britain, and the U.S. …
Jeremy Bowen may not be an anti-Semite but his litany follows a pattern I encounter in European and Middle Eastern academia, which cherry-picks Jewish history and portrays to the world a vicious, murderous wave of humanity that was determined to displace Arabs and steal their homes. Jeremy Bowen is guilty of portraying the early Zionists as violent, merciless, and thieving, an image Joseph Goebbels promoted in Germany about Jews. …
My grandparents in Philadelphia put nickels into the little “Blue Boxes” carried by Jewish children to raise money for a homeland; the state was formed legitimately with UN approval. Every penny that has gone to Israel in the past sixty years from charities has been used to build scientific and agricultural institutions, schools, ballet centers, opera houses, concert halls, libraries, and theaters.
Why does Jeremy Bowen not ask why the Palestinians are living in squalor despite the billions poured in from the EU, UN, and U.S. for the past fifty years? Where does this money go? …
I urge you to commission a program celebrating the birth of a remarkable little nation the size of Wales that is a bastion of gay rights, press freedom, scientific brilliance, and cultural greatness. And by the way, did Bowen mention the Indian conductor Zubin Mehta, who has been the music director of the Israel Philharmonic for thirty years? Four major wars and sixty years of hatred from backward neighboring Arab countries — I challenge the BBC to tell the true story of the birth of the tiny Jewish state.
(Miss) Carol Gould